symbol

noun
sym·​bol | \ ˈsim-bəl How to pronounce symbol (audio) \

Definition of symbol

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an authoritative summary of faith or doctrine : creed
2 : something that stands for or suggests something else by reason of relationship, association, convention, or accidental resemblance especially : a visible sign of something invisible the lion is a symbol of courage
3 : an arbitrary or conventional sign used in writing or printing relating to a particular field to represent operations, quantities, elements, relations, or qualities
4 : an object or act representing something in the unconscious mind that has been repressed phallic symbols
5 : an act, sound, or object having cultural significance and the capacity to excite or objectify a response

symbol

verb
symboled or symbolled; symboling or symbolling

Definition of symbol (Entry 2 of 2)

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Synonyms for symbol

Synonyms: Noun

emblem, ensign, hallmark, impresa, logo, totem, trademark

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Examples of symbol in a Sentence

Noun

the traditional physician's symbol of a staff entwined with a snake the symbol ¶ indicates where a new paragraph should begin

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

White White is a symbol of purity, used during all feasts of the Lord and during the season of Easter to symbolize the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Madison Alcedo, Country Living, "The Real Meaning Behind the Colors of Easter," 8 Mar. 2019 For many in Brazil, one of the world’s most unequal countries, Franco was a symbol of hope, in large part because such prominence for a black woman from a poor neighborhood was rare. Sergio Ramalho, The Seattle Times, "Sister of slain Brazilian councilwoman calls for justice," 14 Jan. 2019 Better known as mums, the chrysanthemum flower is a symbol of optimism and joy. Chanel Vargas, Town & Country, "12 Best Valentine's Day Flower Arrangements for That Special Someone," 18 Dec. 2018 And then there are cues to the racing scene, where modifications were a symbol of the DIY inspiration celebrated by the grassroots motorsports that thrived in southern California. Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge, "Infiniti’s new electric concept car can only be described as vintage future," 25 Aug. 2018 Fido, the dog under the table, is a symbol of faith and fidelity as well as a beloved family pet. Victoria Dalkey, sacbee, "Crocker showcases diversity of Eduardo Carrillo's work, from realism to myth and fantasy," 6 July 2018 The entire sphere of college football, from coaches through the media, need to toss aside the tired and frankly embarrassing notion that football is a sport of gladiators, that injuries are a symbol of weakness. Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, "It's time for college football, NCAA to embrace injury reports with gambling influence rising," 3 July 2018 The Yongsan Garrison was a symbol of the U.S.-South Korea alliance but its occupation of prime real estate was also a long-running source of friction. Washington Post, "US ends 70 years of military presence in S. Korean capital," 29 June 2018 Samara could have ended up being a symbol of Russia’s struggles: This was the stadium site that lagged the most in its construction, the city that struggled to be ready in time. Rory Smith, New York Times, "Finally, a Loss for Russia. But Only on the Field.," 25 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

To me that demonstrated the central role that symbols play in the culture. Lorraine Boissoneault, Smithsonian, "Why Americans Flocked to Catch a Glimpse of Hitler’s Car," 16 Mar. 2017

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

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1832, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for symbol

Noun

in sense 1, from Late Latin symbolum, from Late Greek symbolon, from Greek, token, sign; in other senses from Latin symbolum token, sign, symbol, from Greek symbolon, literally, token of identity verified by comparing its other half, from symballein to throw together, compare, from syn- + ballein to throw — more at devil

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Statistics for symbol

Last Updated

23 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for symbol

The first known use of symbol was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for symbol

symbol

noun

English Language Learners Definition of symbol

: an action, object, event, etc., that expresses or represents a particular idea or quality
: a letter, group of letters, character, or picture that is used instead of a word or group of words

symbol

noun
sym·​bol | \ ˈsim-bəl How to pronounce symbol (audio) \

Kids Definition of symbol

1 : something that stands for something else : emblem The eagle is a symbol of the United States.
2 : a letter, character, or sign used instead of a word to represent a quantity, position, relationship, direction, or something to be done The sign + is the symbol for addition.

symbol

noun
sym·​bol | \ ˈsim-bəl How to pronounce symbol (audio) \

Medical Definition of symbol

: something that stands for or suggests something else: as
a : an arbitrary or conventional sign used in writing or printing relating to a particular field to represent operations, quantities, elements, relations, or qualities
b : an object or act representing something in the unconscious mind that has been repressed phallic symbols

Other Words from symbol

symbolic \ sim-​ˈbäl-​ik How to pronounce symbolic (audio) \ adjective
symbolically \ -​i-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce symbolically (audio) \ adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on symbol

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with symbol

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for symbol

Spanish Central: Translation of symbol

Nglish: Translation of symbol for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of symbol for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about symbol

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an enemy or opponent

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