Definition of symbol in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈsimbəl/


1A 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
More example sentences
  • The wall stood as a grim symbol of the separation of free people and those living under dictatorships.
  • 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.
  • Material symbols of wealth such as luxury goods, expensive cars, and exclusive shops are visible everywhere.
emblem, token, sign, representation, figure, image;
metaphor, allegory;
1.1A 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.
Example sentences
  • Musical notation for instruments, based on figures, letters, or other symbols instead of conventional staff notation.
  • His contributions to algebraic symbolism were in using short Arabic words, or just their initial letters, as mathematical symbols.
  • The difficult question is whether this behavior indicates that lexigrams function as symbols or names.
1.2A shape or sign used to represent something such as an organization, e.g., a red cross or a Star of David.
Example sentences
  • And soldiers who wear a cross or a Star of David must keep the symbols hidden.
  • Choose a simple design with mostly satin stitching - large logos, shapes or symbols are ideal.
  • Nazi symbols next to stars of David were used in their protests.
logo, emblem, badge, stamp, trademark, crest, insignia, coat of arms, seal, device, monogram, hallmark, flag, motif, icon

verb (symbols, symboling, symboled ; British symbols, symbolling, symbolled)

[with object] archaic
Example sentences
  • The first was symbol of the atonement the 2nd was to symbol the carrying away of sins.
  • Craftsmen carved flowers or other patterns symboling good wishes into the doors, adding to the elegance and beauty of the dwellings.
  • Nicole bought a silver charm bracelet with two hands on it symboling best friends.


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'.

  • This comes from Latin symbolum ‘symbol, creed (as the mark of a Christian)’; it was first used in English to refer to the Apostles' Creed. The source is Greek sumbolon ‘mark, token’. It had come to be used in non-religious senses by the late 16th century.

Words that rhyme with symbol

Abu Simbel, cymbal, gimbal, nimble, thimble, timbal

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: sym·bol

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.