symbol

noun
sym·​bol | \ ˈsim-bəl \

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)

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for symbol

Synonyms: Noun

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

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

And in terms of status symbols, the bus was definitely not a sign of social mobility. Alissa Walker, Curbed, "Getting around the Bay Area with Chanell Fletcher," 21 Dec. 2018 The deconstruction of language is breathtaking, the interrogation of symbols startling. Constance Grady, Vox, "The Alice Walker anti-Semitism controversy, explained," 20 Dec. 2018 Now, Californians will no longer have to decipher a slew of tiny symbols to make sure their beauty routine hasn't come at animals' expense. Rachel Nussbaum, Glamour, "California Just Became the First State to Ban Beauty Products Tested on Animals," 4 Sep. 2018 While Richmond has plenty of other Confederate symbols, the commission's mandate was limited to the five giant Confederate statues that dot Monument Avenue, a prestigious residential street lined with mansions and divided by a grassy median. Sarah Rankin, The Christian Science Monitor, "After a year of soul-searching, Richmond reimagines its Confederate monuments," 3 July 2018 This, although dozens of Confederate symbols and markers have been taken down in recent years, more than 1,700 remain. Anne Branigin, The Root, "It's 2018 and These Trash Bags Are Still Erecting Confederate Monuments," 1 July 2018 Wilkie also was a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a group that defends public displays of the Confederate symbols. Paul Sonne And Lisa Rein, miamiherald, "Trump's VA pick, a longtime aide to polarizing politicians, has defended extreme views," 26 June 2018 The lifting of the driving ban quashes one of the most enduring symbols of sexism and inequality in Saudi Arabia, and has widely been hailed as a major step forward for women’s rights in the country. Aryn Baker / Riyadh, Time, "We Took a Ride With Saudi Arabia's First Women Taxi Drivers," 25 June 2018 The group chose to paint supportive people in their lives, along with a mosaic of cultural symbols representing Pan-African unity. Emilia Petrarca, The Cut, "Here’s the Story Behind Gucci’s New Soho Mural," 22 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about symbol

Statistics for symbol

Last Updated

12 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for symbol

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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 \

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 \

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 \ adjective
symbolically \ -​i-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on symbol

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

WORD OF THE DAY

means, resources, or money

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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