symbolism

noun

sym·​bol·​ism ˈsim-bə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce symbolism (audio)
1
: the art or practice of using symbols especially by investing things with a symbolic meaning or by expressing the invisible or intangible by means of visible or sensuous representations: such as
a
: artistic imitation or invention that is a method of revealing or suggesting immaterial, ideal, or otherwise intangible truth or states
b
: the use of conventional or traditional signs in the representation of divine beings and spirits
2
: a system of symbols or representations

Examples of symbolism in a Sentence

The story was filled with religious symbolism.
Recent Examples on the Web The symbolism of green investment is more important than the dollars-and-cents effect. Annie Lowrey, The Atlantic, 13 Oct. 2023 Robert De Niro’s turn as a veteran in Taxi Driver took the jacket to the screen, further reflecting its symbolism of the time. Isaiah Freeman-Schub, Robb Report, 21 Sep. 2023 This traditional color scheme has a history rooted in symbolism, religion, and even Coca-Cola. Meghan Overdeep, Southern Living, 5 Nov. 2023 Fain acknowledged the symbolism of Biden’s visit to the picket line, the first time a sitting President had done so. Dan Kaufman, The New Yorker, 28 Oct. 2023 Quiroz understands the power of those altars — and the symbolism behind the items used to create them — better than most people. Theresa Vargas, Washington Post, 25 Oct. 2023 For Fidesz and its allies on the American right, symbolism, tone, and gestures all matter more than policy overlap, particularly on the domestic front. Emily Tamkin, The New Republic, 22 Sep. 2023 The 1,000 bracteates found in Scandinavia typically show the Norse god Odin healing the sick horse of his son, Balder — but the new pieces show just a horse, an image with important cultural symbolism in pre-Christian Norway. Patrick Smith, NBC News, 8 Sep. 2023 Some stories, with all of their strangeness and symbolism, are better left on the page. Aramide Tinubu, Variety, 7 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'symbolism.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1654, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of symbolism was in 1654

Dictionary Entries Near symbolism

Cite this Entry

“Symbolism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/symbolism. Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition

symbolism

noun
sym·​bol·​ism ˈsim-bə-ˌliz-əm How to pronounce symbolism (audio)
1
: the art or practice of using symbols
2
: a system of symbols or representations

Medical Definition

symbolism

noun
sym·​bol·​ism ˈsim-bə-ˌliz-əm How to pronounce symbolism (audio)
: the art or practice of using symbols especially by investing things with a symbolic meaning or by expressing the invisible or intangible by means of visible or sensuous representations

More from Merriam-Webster on symbolism

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