Definition of symbolic in English:

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Pronunciation: /simˈbälik/


1Serving as a symbol: a repeating design symbolic of eternity
More example sentences
  • A stone is also symbolic of eternity, like the cornerstone of a building, placed to last for all time.
  • Perhaps, too, this is symbolic of a psychological disruption as Warhol the man attempts to reclaim himself from Warhol the legend.
  • 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.
figurative, representative, illustrative, emblematic, metaphorical, allegorical, parabolic, allusive, suggestive;
meaningful, significant
1.1Significant purely in terms of what is being represented or implied: the release of the dissident was an important symbolic gesture
More example sentences
  • Their proposal for a nuclear-free zone is a largely symbolic but very significant gesture in the face of terrorist violence.
  • The handshake was a symbolic gesture signifying that intention.
  • Some people have suggested as a symbolic gesture, perhaps, it would be demolished.
2Involving the use of symbols or symbolism: the symbolic meaning of motifs and designs
More example sentences
  • A single large, spoked wheel above the train takes the painting into the symbolic realm.
  • "I think that 'The Scream' is one of the best paintings in the world. It is a great symbolic painting."
  • Cotton's highly symbolic paintings make statements about the value of land, Maori land concerns and the impact of colonisation.



Example sentences
  • Locating the action in the dark recesses of Ian's mind, his depraved fantasy-land becomes the symbolical epicentre of mankind's propensity toward evil.
  • The paper's main working hypothesis is that this custom is to be understood in the context of underlying conceptions that fairytales convey in a symbolical guise.
  • The powers of the Parliament, reformed after the 1996 referendum, became largely symbolical while the rule of law was profaned since the main regulating documents were presidential decrees.


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

Words that rhyme with symbolic

alcoholic, anabolic, apostolic, bucolic, carbolic, chocoholic, colic, diabolic, embolic, frolic, hydraulic, hyperbolic, melancholic, metabolic, parabolic, rollick, shambolic, shopaholic, vitriolic, workaholic

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: sym·bol·ic

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