Definition of symbolism in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈsimbəˌlizəm/


1The use of symbols to represent ideas or qualities: he has always believed in the importance of symbolism in garden art
More example sentences
  • This rivalry serves as a subject worth great discussion due to the political symbolism each team represents and the history which divides the collected fans.
  • But anyone who has ever striven to meet their standards knows they do not sacrifice quality for symbolism's sake.
  • And that is the main fault line running through the collection: the stories are too choked with symbolism to achieve their lofty ambitions.
1.1Symbolic meaning attributed to natural objects or facts: the old-fashioned symbolism of flowers
More example sentences
  • The Mourides have in fact developed a far-reaching symbolism around the various attributes seen within the original photograph.
  • The real significance of the vote is in its symbolism, and the fact it comes at a critical, watershed juncture in the evolution of sentiment toward the euro.
  • Here's hoping that there is no deeper symbolism in the fact that the Namibian flag was hanging upside-down outside the High Court yesterday.
1.2 (also Symbolism) An artistic and poetic movement or style using symbolic images and indirect suggestion to express mystical ideas, emotions, and states of mind. It originated in late 19th century France and Belgium, with important figures including Mallarmé, Maeterlinck, Verlaine, Rimbaud, and Redon.
Example sentences
  • Throughout his life he read voraciously about the great figures of European romanticism and symbolism.
  • From the first his work was macabre and fantastic, influenced by Goya's Caprichos, the drawings of Beardsley, the eroticism of Rops, and the symbolism of Redon.
  • His style, derived from observations of both art and life, is a more or less naive, expressionistic symbolism.



Pronunciation: /ˈsimbələst/
noun& adjective
Example sentences
  • Myaskovsky's Sixth, written in 1924, is rooted in post-Romanticism, while its stance, equating the Revolution with the biblical apocalypse, links it to the Russian symbolists of the previous decade.
  • The publication of each portrait was dedicated to one of the outstanding young Bulgarian symbolists such as Nikolai Liliev, Dimcho Debelyanov, Teodor Trayanov, and Nikolai Rainov.
  • In the late nineteenth century, the French symbolists admired Ibsen for the mystery and potency of his symbols, which can be found in all his work but are most prominent in his early, verse drama.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: sym·bol·ism

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.