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

As a result, some of those moments flirt with inconsequence or facile symbolism. Jesse Green, New York Times, "Review: ‘Mary Page Marlowe’ Lives an Ordinary, Extraordinary Life," 12 July 2018 The underlying imagery and symbolism tell a far greater story. David Jackson, USA TODAY, "Donald Trump thinks things are 'going well' with North Korea - others are skeptical," 3 July 2018 All the ritualism and symbolism and I'm just really drawn by all of that stuff. Henry Youtt, Billboard, "Years & Years Debut Club-Ready New Single 'All for You'," 27 June 2018 The Starz adaptation is excellent on so many levels, but the extraordinary adaptation by Kenneth Lonergan and revelatory direction by Hettie Macdonald mirror Forster’s themes and symbolism. David Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle, "Stunning new ‘Howards End’ connects with social change," 4 Apr. 2018 McGinley underscored the symbolism of the stained glass, though. Philly.com, "Hidden for years, some Philly schools' artwork is back - and new school board means to unearth more," 3 July 2018 The timing of the embassy opening, attended by President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, added to the fraught symbolism. Nicole Gaouette, CNN, "Gulf widening between US and key allies over Gaza," 15 May 2018 But the symbolism went far beyond celebrating the Year of the Dog’s arrival: This was about cementing a burgeoning relationship between two unlikely partners. Alan Crawford, Bloomberg.com, "Everything Is for Sale in Cyprus, and China’s Buying," 24 Apr. 2018 The slapdash way the executive order was introduced doesn’t exactly bode well for how seriously it will be taken, beyond its political symbolism. David Roberts, Vox, "California Gov. Jerry Brown casually drops history’s most ambitious climate target," 11 Sep. 2018

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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Last Updated

13 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for symbolism

The first known use of symbolism was in 1654

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More Definitions for symbolism

symbolism

noun

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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