symbolism

noun
sym·​bol·​ism | \ ˈsim-bə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce symbolism (audio) \

Definition of symbolism

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 She is known for her use of relief prints, created using the process of the linocut and inspired by meteoric folklore as well as alchemical symbolism. New York Times, "RACHeL KushNer," 8 July 2020 July Fourth has fallen on some dark moments in American history, and presidents have often used its symbolism to reaffirm the country's founding values. Stephen Collinson With Caitlin Hu, CNN, "July Fourth has fallen on some dark moments in American history," 6 July 2020 Published in 1924, The Magic Mountain is a strange fantasy: absurd yet profound, its Olympian symbolism undercut by medical irony. David Treuer, The New York Review of Books, "The Magic Mountains of the Acoma Pueblo and Thomas Mann," 6 July 2020 At a brisk 80 minutes there's hardly time to allow much more for anyone, even the great Rob Morgan (Just Mercy, Stranger Things) whose loyal mess-hall steward never quite gets the chance to transcend his heavy symbolism. Leah Greenblatt, EW.com, "Tom Hanks is the captain now in tense WWII naval drama Greyhound: Review," 6 July 2020 While the contributions from police unions represent a relatively small fraction of the $40 million the party spent on political activities in 2018, the symbolism of a ban is large. Joe Garofoli, SFChronicle.com, "Top California Democrats demand state party stop taking money from police unions," 6 July 2020 In June, Facebook removed a swath of Trump campaign ads with Nazi symbolism, after an initial internal assessment that found the ads did not violate the company’s polices, according to documents viewed by The Post. Elizabeth Dwoskin, Washington Post, "Zuckerberg once wanted to sanction Trump. Then Facebook wrote rules that accommodated him.," 28 June 2020 Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has long used religious and nationalist symbolism to shore up support. David Gauthier-villars, WSJ, "Turkey’s Erdogan Presses to Convert Hagia Sophia Back Into a Mosque," 26 June 2020 The Army has made its recommendation on Confederate symbolism to Defense Secretary Mark Esper. Alex Connor, USA TODAY, "How to save 33,000 lives," 25 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'symbolism.' 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 symbolism

1654, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for symbolism

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The first known use of symbolism was in 1654

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Statistics for symbolism

Last Updated

1 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Symbolism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/symbolism. Accessed 11 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for symbolism

symbolism

noun
How to pronounce symbolism (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of symbolism

: the use of symbols to express or represent ideas or qualities in literature, art, etc.
: the particular idea or quality that is expressed by a symbol

symbolism

noun
sym·​bol·​ism | \ ˈsim-bə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce symbolism (audio) \

Kids Definition of symbolism

1 : the use of symbols to represent an idea or quality The story was filled with symbolism.
2 : the meaning of a symbol What is the symbolism of the lion and lamb in this picture?

symbolism

noun
sym·​bol·​ism | \ ˈsim-bə-ˌliz-əm How to pronounce symbolism (audio) \

Medical Definition of symbolism

: 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

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More from Merriam-Webster on symbolism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with symbolism

Spanish Central: Translation of symbolism

Nglish: Translation of symbolism for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of symbolism for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about symbolism

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