Definition of symbol in English:

symbol

noun

  • 1A mark or character used as a conventional representation of an object, function, or process, e.g. the letter or letters standing for a chemical element or a character in musical notation:

    ‘the symbol r in Figure 5 represents a gene which is ineffective’
    ‘the chemical symbol for helium is He’
    • ‘When Henry Chadwick invented a scoring system in 1861, he developed a series of letter symbols.’
    • ‘Encourage students to develop their own notational system and analytical symbols.’
    • ‘The difficult question is whether this behavior indicates that lexigrams function as symbols or names.’
    • ‘The outer ring had many small spaces for gems, each in the shape of the zodiac symbols.’
    • ‘For the first time, material that is also available for mobile phones will be marked with a special symbol.’
    • ‘Some have maybe only one letter and some use symbols.’
    • ‘Once all bets are down, the banker rolls three six-sided dice marked with the same symbols as on the table.’
    • ‘His contributions to algebraic symbolism were in using short Arabic words, or just their initial letters, as mathematical symbols.’
    • ‘Their brevity has led to a system of text message abbreviations being devised, mixing numbers, symbols and capital letters.’
    • ‘Musical notation for instruments, based on figures, letters, or other symbols instead of conventional staff notation.’
    • ‘The symbols were a star, a triangle, a circle, a square, and wavy lines.’
    • ‘The second cipher, which used several different symbols for each English letter in the text, was much more difficult.’
    • ‘Each Chinese character is identified with symbols selected from the group of ten symbol groupings.’
    • ‘Three madrigals are marked by a symbol consisting of a dot with a small vertical line below it.’
    • ‘The extra characters represent characters from foreign languages and special symbols for simple pictures.’
    • ‘La Route, marked by grape symbols on the map, lay there to be tamed.’
    • ‘The same is true, for instance, of the set of the basic musical symbols used in standard musical notation.’
    • ‘Bengali is written in its own alphabet, which contains fifty-seven letter symbols.’
    • ‘The light revealed a great number of symbols and geometric shapes carefully carved on the floor in the farthest section of the room.’
    • ‘Basically it's just writing using a variety of symbols, or using symbols such as letters in a variety of ways.’
    sign, character, mark, letter, hieroglyph, ideogram
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    1. 1.1 A shape or sign used to represent something such as an organization, e.g. a red cross or a Star of David:
      ‘the Red Cross symbol’
      ‘the Star of David, the Jewish symbol’
      • ‘Staff Sergeant Lemieux testified that the name Hells Angels, and the death head are the main symbols of the organization.’
      • ‘I could not believe my eyes at seeing the American flag desecrated with symbols of the swastika.’
      • ‘And soldiers who wear a cross or a Star of David must keep the symbols hidden.’
      • ‘The tablets can be found in any colour or shape, but are often white with a trademark symbol stamped on them.’
      • ‘The torso armour itself had coral shaped into the symbol of the ancient Merfolk.’
      • ‘Better yet, make it the universal symbol for the Red Cross regardless of nationality.’
      • ‘What has made him invulnerable as patron saint, however, is his saltire symbol on our flag, the sign of our nationhood.’
      • ‘They are green and white, and they carry their national symbol, the star and crescent, silvery bright and shiny.’
      • ‘Nazi symbols next to stars of David were used in their protests.’
      • ‘The ‘green’ vans are easily recognisable as they are marked with a rainbow symbol.’
      • ‘Choose a simple design with mostly satin stitching - large logos, shapes or symbols are ideal.’
      • ‘Every region has its own Easter bread, biscuits and cakes, often topped or shaped with Christian symbols like crosses, fish, lambs and eggs.’
      • ‘The star, called a Magen David, or Shield of David, is a symbol of the Jewish faith.’
      • ‘During the First World War, the symbol of the Red Cross was seen as inviolable.’
      • ‘Older serigraphs do not have the trademark symbols or holographic logo directly on them.’
      • ‘No, of course they won't be copied from traditional moko, they will reflect my own ancestry, the signs and symbols of a Scottish clan.’
      • ‘It is inconceivable that any national or state legislature would bar a Star of David if it allowed other symbols.’
      • ‘On the chest of the suit was a patch that had the symbol of the organization they represent.’
      logo, emblem, badge, stamp, trademark, crest, insignia, coat of arms, seal, figure, device, rune, logotype, logogram, monogram, hallmark, tag, flag, motto, token, motif, colophon, ideogram
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  • 2A thing that represents or stands for something else, especially a material object representing something abstract:

    ‘the limousine was another symbol of his wealth and authority’
    • ‘Turner's watercolours are filled with visual witticisms, signs and symbols.’
    • ‘She reinterprets history and, using new symbols, she shapes new myths.’
    • ‘They've enhanced their cities, increasing their standing, and in the process they've become symbols of renewed cultural confidence.’
    • ‘The Aldabra atoll stands as a rare symbol of hope and encouragement for conservation around the world.’
    • ‘That got him thinking about child stars as symbols for a larger malaise.’
    • ‘Amid the welter of sordid interests, he stood as the symbol of proud incorruptibility.’
    • ‘Gill sees David as a symbol of an age, a city, a man and an artist.’
    • ‘The cat is for Charles Baudelaire, the poet of Les Fleurs du mal, both a sign and a symbol.’
    • ‘It's very unfortunate that this mass murderer has become the symbol of a David who is standing up to a Goliath.’
    • ‘In another essay, he presents the character as a symbol of the mental retardation of our society.’
    • ‘In a sense, stage properties like skulls and notions like funerary rituals are both historically marked signs and universal symbols.’
    • ‘I would imagine that people who value the institution of marriage also value institutions like fidelity, and the associated signs and symbols.’
    • ‘Plato imagined that the first beings were shaped like globes, symbols of full-bodied wholeness.’
    • ‘That the symbol of freedom was both a distant star and a symbol of the African communal past is no small irony.’
    • ‘His phone was also silver, a top of the range Nokia, a symbol of the material wealth modern young men can accrue if they choose life at sea.’
    • ‘The wall stood as a grim symbol of the separation of free people and those living under dictatorships.’
    • ‘As a symbol of Britain's musical worth, it's a bit of an embarrassment.’
    • ‘Material symbols of wealth such as luxury goods, expensive cars, and exclusive shops are visible everywhere.’
    • ‘This applies to cases in which the religious sign is a symbol of oppression and runs counter to the dignity and freedom of its wearer.’
    • ‘The designs used by the Dong people usually include the sun and the stars as they are symbols of good fortune.’
    emblem, token, sign, representation, figure, image, type
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verb

[WITH OBJECT]archaic
  • Symbolize.

    • ‘Craftsmen carved flowers or other patterns symboling good wishes into the doors, adding to the elegance and beauty of the dwellings.’
    • ‘The first was symbol of the atonement the 2nd was to symbol the carrying away of sins.’
    • ‘Nicole bought a silver charm bracelet with two hands on it symboling best friends.’
    • ‘Among the rarest copper coins was one of Carausius (our English Carew), with two heads on it symbolling the ambition of our native usurper to assert empire.’
    represent, be a symbol of, stand for, be a sign of, exemplify
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Origin

Late Middle English (denoting the Apostles' Creed): from Latin symbolum symbol, Creed (as the mark of a Christian), from Greek sumbolon mark, token, from sun- with + ballein to throw.

Pronunciation:

symbol

/ˈsɪmb(ə)l/