Definition of symbolic in English:

symbolic

adjective

  • 1Serving as a symbol.

    ‘a repeating design symbolic of eternity’
    • ‘A stone is also symbolic of eternity, like the cornerstone of a building, placed to last for all time.’
    • ‘To me this is symbolic of the effect of the book - shedding light on what otherwise might be passed by unnoticed.’
    • ‘An inverted glass is symbolic of the fact that those missing are unable to raise their glasses in a toast.’
    • ‘They also somehow seem to be symbolic of our throwaway consumer society.’
    • ‘The castle site is symbolic of York's importance in national affairs of state, much of which is forgotten by people, or not known.’
    • ‘The destruction of both wall and statue is symbolic of breaking free from oppression, and the elation on the faces of the people was the same.’
    • ‘They feel this is symbolic of the problems we face in the nation.’
    • ‘This seems to be symbolic of the many recent developments which simply do not belong in the community.’
    • ‘But the failure to open up the reserve to oil exploration is symbolic of environmentalism's influence.’
    • ‘A building can be symbolic of power, but it can also be a folly.’
    • ‘It is symbolic of loneliness, but also safety and guidance.’
    • ‘For Baxter, it seems symbolic of his becoming - in late middle age - a family man for the first time.’
    • ‘The exploration and searching of the butterfly may be symbolic of the poet's search for an explanation or a meaning for the death of someone close to him.’
    • ‘The world's most famous steam locomotive is symbolic of British industry, innovation and engineering.’
    • ‘The city has today become symbolic of the systematic and sustained devaluation of the dignity of women.’
    • ‘The flag is symbolic of the Democracy in which we are lucky enough to live.’
    • ‘Bronze bells are not only percussion instruments but also ritual instruments symbolic of social status and power.’
    • ‘It's symbolic of the acceptance by the people of the new monarch and acceptance of the new monarch to serve.’
    • ‘Perhaps, too, this is symbolic of a psychological disruption as Warhol the man attempts to reclaim himself from Warhol the legend.’
    • ‘Dirty hospitals are symbolic of an under-funded health service.’
    figurative, representative, illustrative, emblematic, allegorical, parabolic, non-literal, allusive, denotative, connotative, suggestive, mnemonic
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    1. 1.1 Significant purely in terms of what is being represented or implied.
      ‘the release of the dissident was an important symbolic gesture’
      • ‘To date, their achievements have been purely symbolic or legislative rather than financial.’
      • ‘It has more to do with the need to be seen supporting the Palestinians, even if only in a purely symbolic way.’
      • ‘The apology for slavery is important in symbolic terms only, especially given the crisis in Liberia.’
      • ‘In such a circumstance the label under which punishment is imposed would appear to be purely symbolic.’
      • ‘Some people have suggested as a symbolic gesture, perhaps, it would be demolished.’
      • ‘Their proposal for a nuclear-free zone is a largely symbolic but very significant gesture in the face of terrorist violence.’
      • ‘However, the territories gained were significant only in a symbolic way.’
      • ‘And never mind that the summit may turn out to be a purely symbolic event.’
      • ‘The process of disarmament thus assumes a purely symbolic character.’
      • ‘In Aaronovitch's telling, events in the Balkans become purely symbolic.’
      • ‘Now, the loss of Spain is more politically symbolic than militarily significant.’
      • ‘Her term two has been a much rockier ride than her more symbolic, ambassadorial first term.’
      • ‘I also think that maybe this was a symbolic journey, representing my quest to my inner psyche.’
      • ‘In a symbolic gesture Chambers cut his annual salary to $1 to appease shareholders and departing employees.’
      • ‘In measuring that weakness, his sexual misbehaviour is more symbolic than significant.’
      • ‘In symbolic terms, a national currency is felt by some to be part of the very idea of nationhood.’
      • ‘The handshake was a symbolic gesture signifying that intention.’
      • ‘But as well as the bread and butter issues, there is a significant symbolic loss for republicans.’
      • ‘All the while, the world makes symbolic gestures of concern and assistance.’
      • ‘The presentations represented a symbolic passing of the torch from one generation to the next.’
      emblematic, representative, typical, characteristic, distinctive, symptomatic
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  • 2Involving the use of symbols or symbolism.

    ‘the symbolic meaning of motifs and designs’
    • ‘A single large, spoked wheel above the train takes the painting into the symbolic realm.’
    • ‘Cotton's highly symbolic paintings make statements about the value of land, Maori land concerns and the impact of colonisation.’
    • ‘If one were to judge Watts on his late, symbolic work, one might give him low marks for technique, anatomy and draughtsmanship.’
    • ‘"I think that 'The Scream' is one of the best paintings in the world. It is a great symbolic painting."’

Origin

Mid 17th century: from French symbolique or late Latin symbolicus, from Greek sumbolikos. The adjective symbolical dates from the early 17th century.

Pronunciation:

symbolic

/simˈbälik/