sym·​bol·​ic | \ sim-ˈbä-lik How to pronounce symbolic (audio) \
variants: or less commonly symbolical \ sim-​ˈbä-​li-​kəl How to pronounce symbolic (audio) \

Definition of symbolic

1a : using, employing, or exhibiting a symbol
b : consisting of or proceeding by means of symbols
2 : of, relating to, or constituting a symbol
3 : characterized by or terminating in symbols symbolic thinking
4 : characterized by symbolism a symbolic dance

Other Words from symbolic

symbolically \ sim-​ˈbä-​li-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce symbolic (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for symbolic



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Examples of symbolic in a Sentence

The lighting of the candles is symbolic. The sharing of the wine has symbolic meaning.
Recent Examples on the Web The resolution, which is basically symbolic, would go to the Illinois Municipal League, which would use it as part of its lobbying against legislation designed to weaken the use of TIF districts. Steve Lord, Chicago Tribune, 29 Apr. 2022 Black Sea fleet, the Moskva, this month was a strategic and symbolic blow to the Kremlin’s war effort. NBC News, 28 Apr. 2022 For people like Round Lake, New York’s Sarah Bachinger, the eggs are still deeply symbolic. Jane Recker, Smithsonian Magazine, 28 Apr. 2022 The city’s capture has both strategic and symbolic importance. Fox News, 25 Apr. 2022 Leaving the plant in Ukrainian hands robs the Russians of the ability to declare complete victory in Mariupol, which has seen some of the most dramatic fighting of the war and whose capture has both strategic and symbolic importance. John Bacon, USA TODAY, 21 Apr. 2022 Mariupol holds strategic and symbolic value for both sides. Adam Schreck,, 20 Apr. 2022 The anti-compulsory hijab movement has become symbolic of all these different divides that women face. Sarah Spellings, Vogue, 7 Dec. 2021 The movie went into production in Mexico where red shoes have become symbolic of the protest surrounding violence against women. Liza Foreman, Variety, 2 Dec. 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of symbolic

1610, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Time Traveler for symbolic

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The first known use of symbolic was in 1610

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Last Updated

8 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Symbolic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for symbolic


sym·​bol·​ic | \ sim-ˈbä-lik How to pronounce symbolic (audio) \
variants: also symbolical \ -​li-​kəl \

Kids Definition of symbolic

: of, relating to, or using symbols or symbolism Lighting the candles has a symbolic meaning.

More from Merriam-Webster on symbolic

Nglish: Translation of symbolic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of symbolic for Arabic Speakers


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