symbol

noun
sym·​bol | \ ˈsim-bəl \

Definition of symbol

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an authoritative summary of faith or doctrine : creed
2 : something that stands for or suggests something else by reason of relationship, association, convention, or accidental resemblance especially : a visible sign of something invisible the lion is a symbol of courage
3 : an arbitrary or conventional sign used in writing or printing relating to a particular field to represent operations, quantities, elements, relations, or qualities
4 : an object or act representing something in the unconscious mind that has been repressed phallic symbols
5 : an act, sound, or object having cultural significance and the capacity to excite or objectify a response

symbol

verb
symboled or symbolled; symboling or symbolling

Definition of symbol (Entry 2 of 2)

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Synonyms for symbol

Synonyms: Noun

emblem, ensign, hallmark, impresa, logo, totem, trademark

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Examples of symbol in a Sentence

Noun

the traditional physician's symbol of a staff entwined with a snake the symbol ¶ indicates where a new paragraph should begin

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Rings and pendants from Missoma allow for just about anything to be engraved on their face, from initials and symbols, all the way to a custom sketch. Madeline Fass, Vogue, "Make It Personal: 14 Custom Jewelry Gifts for Valentine’s Day," 1 Feb. 2019 The real crime is on the interior, where Johnson turns a crucifix—a symbol of the greatest sacrifice—into an excuse for empty formal gamesmanship. Mark Lamster, Curbed, "Arbiter of taste, enfant terrible: The best and worst of Philip Johnson," 6 Nov. 2018 The majestic and intelligent creatures have been used for logging, in ceremonial celebrations, as royal status symbols, and as vehicles of war. Ashlea Halpern, Condé Nast Traveler, "Is It Ever Okay to Ride Elephants While on Vacation? It’s Complicated...," 18 Oct. 2018 When our connection to symbols, dates, or events come from the past, they can sometimes be steeped in fear and paranoia. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "Why Do People Think the Number 13 Is Unlucky? Let's Talk About Triskaidekaphobia," 29 Aug. 2018 Women in this episode are reduced to being symbols, even Rachel Tapping, ostensibly the most powerful American woman left on the show. Rena Gross, Billboard, "9 Major Moments From 'The Handmaid's Tale' Season 2, Episode 9 'Smart Power'," 13 June 2018 By then, however, white marble had become a symbol of the pure neoclassical aesthetic, so the fact that polychromy was likely common in ancient Greece met with considerable resistance. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Those painted sculptures in Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey are true to history," 23 Oct. 2018 Jones has become a symbol of the kind of hate speech and disinformation that major internet companies, like Facebook and YouTube, are trying to rid themselves of. Kurt Wagner, Recode, "Spotify is removing some Alex Jones podcasts because they are ‘hate content’," 1 Aug. 2018 In the wake of the 2015 terror attack that killed at least 130 people in Paris and wounded hundreds more, bistros also became a symbol of resilience. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "The Parisian Bistro Is Disappearing," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

To me that demonstrated the central role that symbols play in the culture. Lorraine Boissoneault, Smithsonian, "Why Americans Flocked to Catch a Glimpse of Hitler’s Car," 16 Mar. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'symbol.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of symbol

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1832, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for symbol

Noun

in sense 1, from Late Latin symbolum, from Late Greek symbolon, from Greek, token, sign; in other senses from Latin symbolum token, sign, symbol, from Greek symbolon, literally, token of identity verified by comparing its other half, from symballein to throw together, compare, from syn- + ballein to throw — more at devil

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Statistics for symbol

Last Updated

9 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for symbol

The first known use of symbol was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for symbol

symbol

noun

English Language Learners Definition of symbol

: an action, object, event, etc., that expresses or represents a particular idea or quality
: a letter, group of letters, character, or picture that is used instead of a word or group of words

symbol

noun
sym·​bol | \ ˈsim-bəl \

Kids Definition of symbol

1 : something that stands for something else : emblem The eagle is a symbol of the United States.
2 : a letter, character, or sign used instead of a word to represent a quantity, position, relationship, direction, or something to be done The sign + is the symbol for addition.

symbol

noun
sym·​bol | \ ˈsim-bəl \

Medical Definition of symbol

: something that stands for or suggests something else: as
a : an arbitrary or conventional sign used in writing or printing relating to a particular field to represent operations, quantities, elements, relations, or qualities
b : an object or act representing something in the unconscious mind that has been repressed phallic symbols

Other Words from symbol

symbolic \ sim-​ˈbäl-​ik \ adjective
symbolically \ -​i-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on symbol

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with symbol

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for symbol

Spanish Central: Translation of symbol

Nglish: Translation of symbol for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of symbol for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about symbol

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