A symbol that represents an idea or a thing, rather than the sounds of a word, is called an ideograph. A smiley face emoji is an ideograph that represents happiness.

Many street signs are ideographs, meant to convey a specific meaning without using any words. "Pedestrian crossing" might be a graphic representation of people walking, and "No smoking" is usually a picture of a cigarette inside a circle with a line through it. Hieroglyphics and cuneiform are mainly ideographs, and so are mathematical symbols and emoji. Ideograph combines the Latin idea with graph, "instrument for writing."

Definitions of ideograph

n a graphic character that indicates the meaning of a thing without indicating the sounds used to say it

logogram, logograph
a single written symbol that represents an entire word or phrase without indicating its pronunciation
Type of:
character, grapheme, graphic symbol
a written symbol that is used to represent speech

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