An icon is a symbol. It can be literal—–like the little trashcan on your computer screen—–or metaphorical––as in a singer so well known by ten-year-olds, he's called a pre-teen pop icon.

Icon comes to us from the Greek word eikenai, meaning "to seem or to be like." In certain religions, statues of religious figures are referred to as icons––because they are prayed to as if they were the thing they represent. Icon can also describe a person closely linked to an idea. Mahatma Gandhi is revered as an icon of peace and humanity, while Adolf Hitler is reviled as an icon of violence and hatred.

Definitions of icon

n a visual representation (of an object or scene or person or abstraction) produced on a surface

ikon, image, picture
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bitmap, electronic image
an image represented as a two dimensional array of brightness values for pixels
a monochrome picture made by using several different shades of the same color
collage, montage
a paste-up made by sticking together pieces of paper or photographs to form an artistic image
foil, transparency
picture consisting of a positive photograph or drawing on a transparent base; viewed with a projector
computer graphic, graphic
an image that is generated by a computer
the images and symbolic representations that are traditionally associated with a person or a subject
a small picture inserted within the bounds or a larger one
likeness, semblance
picture consisting of a graphic image of a person or thing
cyclorama, diorama, panorama
a picture (or series of pictures) representing a continuous scene
reflection, reflexion
the image of something as reflected by a mirror (or other reflective material)
CAT scan, scan
an image produced by scanning
echogram, sonogram
an image of a structure that is produced by ultrasonography (reflections of high-frequency sound waves); used to observe fetal growth or to study bodily organs
chiaroscuro painting or stained glass etc., in shades of grey imitating the effect of relief
Identikit, Identikit picture
a likeness of a person's face constructed from descriptions given to police; uses a set of transparencies of various facial features that can be combined to build up a picture of the person sought
a montage that uses photographic images
portrait, portrayal
any likeness of a person, in any medium
lantern slide, slide
a transparency mounted in a frame; viewed with a slide projector
overhead, viewgraph
a transparency for use with an overhead projector
Type of:
a creation that is a visual or tangible rendering of someone or something

n a conventional religious painting in oil on a small wooden panel; venerated in the Eastern Church

Type of:
painting, picture
graphic art consisting of an artistic composition made by applying paints to a surface

n (computer science) a graphic symbol (usually a simple picture) that denotes a program or a command or a data file or a concept in a graphical user interface

Type of:
an arbitrary sign (written or printed) that has acquired a conventional significance

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