Definition of ideogram in English:



  • A character symbolizing the idea of a thing without indicating the sounds used to say it. Examples include numerals and Chinese characters.

    • ‘While it is possible that the Egyptians borrowed the idea for ideograms and phonograms from the Sumerians, many experts think that would be very unlikely.’
    • ‘Perhaps there is a sound that goes with the symbol, as with Chinese ideograms; maybe there are multiple sounds also with Chinese ideograms as they are rendered orally in diverse dialects.’
    • ‘With tens of thousands of Japanese characters - or kanji, based on Chinese ideograms - to choose from, the possibilities would seem limitless.’
    • ‘Early written characters were based on pictograms and ideograms; it is commonly believed that pictograms appeared before ideograms.’
    • ‘Mankind is coming back a full circle - from ideograms through alphabet to ideograms.’
    symbol, mark, cipher, letter, character, numeral, figure, type, code, hieroglyph
    View synonyms


Mid 19th century: from Greek idea ‘form’ + -gram.