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
  1. noun
    a graphic character that indicates the meaning of a thing without indicating the sounds used to say it
    synonyms: ideogram
    see moresee less
    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
Word Family

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