symbol

1 of 2

noun

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

2 of 2

verb

symboled or symbolled; symboling or symbolling

Example Sentences

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
The brand has been making hair brushes for over 200 years and their signature, handmade beard combs are a status symbol among the bearded. Cristina Montemayor, Men's Health, 22 Nov. 2022 Rubber was, at the time, quite expensive and so having shoes with rubber soles was seen as a status symbol. Chris Cillizza, CNN, 22 Nov. 2022 In Westeros, owning a weapon made from this valuable metal is the ultimate status symbol — especially because there's only a finite amount of it left in the world. Devan Coggan, EW.com, 17 Nov. 2022 Closets overflowing with Hermès, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton will always signal a high fashion pedigree—but lately, there’s one piece that’s become even more of a cult status symbol, with an endearing subversive twist: the baseball cap. Kristen Bateman, ELLE, 17 Nov. 2022 The designer candle has become a common status symbol, but this meta version from Loewe is far from a cliché. Time, 14 Nov. 2022 Juul upended the tobacco market in 2018 with its sleek vaporizers, which quickly became a teen status symbol. Jennifer Maloney, WSJ, 10 Nov. 2022 One example is rarity, which can serve as a kind of status symbol, like the Bored Ape avatars, owned by celebrities from Mark Cuban to Paris Hilton. Leo Schwartz, Fortune, 3 Nov. 2022 What’s the point of paying for a status symbol that announces your status as pathetic? WIRED, 3 Nov. 2022
Verb
The laser eyes symbol that Saylor incorporated into his profile picture started in online Bitcoin communities but has spread to the mainstream. Fortune, 13 June 2022 Press and hold the app icon, tap App Info (the i symbol), and tap Permissions. Julian Chokkattu, Wired, 8 Sep. 2020 The Unicode Consortium—the organization in charge of determining which symbols our devices are supposed to recognize—has more and more been measuring the wrong thing in the process of approving new emoji. Wired, 8 Nov. 2019 Drawing route cards and placing trains remains the same, but most tracks on the board that connect two cities also have one or more railroad company symbols next to them. Keith Law, Ars Technica, 12 Oct. 2019 To me that demonstrated the central role that symbols play in the culture. Lorraine Boissoneault, Smithsonian, 16 Mar. 2017 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1832, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near symbol

Cite this Entry

“Symbol.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/symbol. Accessed 28 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

symbol

noun

sym·​bol
ˈsim-bəl
1
: something that stands for something else
especially : something real that stands for or suggests another thing that cannot in itself be pictured or shown
the lion is a symbol of courage
2
: a letter, character, or sign used instead of a word or group of words
the sign + is the symbol for addition

Medical Definition

symbol

noun

sym·​bol ˈsim-bəl How to pronounce symbol (audio)
: 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
symbolic adjective
symbolically adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on symbol

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