sym·​bol·​ist | \ ˈsim-bə-list How to pronounce symbolist (audio) \

Definition of symbolist

1 : one who employs symbols or symbolism
2 : one skilled in the interpretation or explication of symbols
3 often capitalized : one of a group of writers and artists in France after 1880 reacting against realism, concerning themselves with general truths instead of actualities, exalting the metaphysical and the mysterious, and aiming to unify and blend the arts and the functions of the senses

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from symbolist

symbolist adjective

Examples of symbolist in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Among the artists included at both museums is Tyra Kleen, a symbolist painter of the same era. Andrew Ferren, New York Times, "In Search of Hilma af Klint, Who Upended Art History, But Left Few Traces," 21 Oct. 2019 Genteel Edwardian experimenters like Havelock Ellis and W.B. Yeats saw it as a pathway to the symbolist worlds of that period’s art. The Economist, "A mind-bending history of mescaline," 28 June 2019 In the 1890s, the women shared Gabriele d’Annunzio, the soldier, rogue, hedonist and symbolist poet. Rachel Shteir, WSJ, "‘Playing to the Gods’ Review: Avatars of Female Anguish," 23 Aug. 2018 Konstantin, Irina’s son, is staging his first play, an ambitious symbolist work set unfathomably far in the future. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "The First Great Film Adaptation of Chekhov’s The Seagull," 24 Apr. 2018 The description is fitting: front man Dan Bejar’s lyrics feel like symbolist poetry, with lines of varying lengths crammed with allusions to history, film, and—especially—pop music stacked on top of each other like records in a wobbling tower. Tal Rosenberg, Chicago Reader, "Destroyer’s Ken simplifies symbolism with similes and simpering," 12 Jan. 2018 Based on a fairy tale by Aleister Crowley, the colorful early 20th-century British poet and magician, the opera’s story follows some of the same themes as Bluebeard’s Castle, in the symbolist mode of Maeterlinck. Peter Dobrin,, "O17 hits the Barnes with a hallucinatory fairy tale," 19 Sep. 2017 New York painter Packer will display recent work, contemporary portraiture and still lifes that convey the watery warmth of symbolist art. Tal Rosenberg, Chicago Reader, "Ten best bets for fall visual arts," 15 Sep. 2017 The scientific advancements of the day also ushered in a golden age of belief in supernatural forces and energies, and symbolists, in turn, were heavily influenced by the occult and the dream world. Jackie Mansky, Smithsonian, "Did Edvard Munch Find a Supernatural Power in Color?," 11 Sep. 2017

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

See More

First Known Use of symbolist

1812, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about symbolist

Time Traveler for symbolist

Time Traveler

The first known use of symbolist was in 1812

See more words from the same year

Statistics for symbolist

Cite this Entry

“Symbolist.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

More from Merriam-Webster on symbolist

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for symbolist

Comments on symbolist

What made you want to look up symbolist? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Who Knew?

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!