A symbol can be an object, shape, sign, or character used to represent something else. A flag is a symbol of a country. English teachers never tire of talking about symbols in literature.

A pink ribbon is a symbol of breast-cancer awareness, and a yellow ribbon is a symbol of support for U.S. troops. In literature, authors use many symbols. A character doing even a small thing, like eating a cheeseburger, might symbolize something larger about that character. Something you need to be rich to have — like a limousine — is called a "status symbol." Anytime one thing seems to represent a deeper meaning, it's probably a symbol.

Definitions of symbol

n something visible that by association or convention represents something else that is invisible

“the eagle is a symbol of the United States”
symbolic representation, symbolisation, symbolization
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two crossed bones (or a representation of two crossed bones) used as a symbol danger or death
cornucopia, horn of plenty
a goat's horn filled with grain and flowers and fruit symbolizing prosperity
death's head
a human skull (or a representation of a human skull) used as a symbol of death
an inspiring symbol or ideal that serves as a rallying point in a struggle
white feather
a symbol of cowardice
allegory, emblem
a visible symbol representing an abstract idea
scarlet letter
the letter A in red; Puritans required adulterers to wear it
a symbol for love in the form of a cherubic naked boy with wings and a bow and arrow
the symbol of the Democratic Party; introduced in cartoons by Thomas Nast in 1874
an emblem of peace
an emblem representing power
the symbol of the Republican Party; introduced in cartoons by Thomas Nast in 1874
bundle of rods containing an axe with the blade protruding; in ancient Rome it was a symbol of a magistrate's power; in modern Italy it is a symbol of fascism
ensign, national flag
an emblem flown as a symbol of nationality
hammer and sickle
the emblem on the flag of the Soviet Union
red flag
the emblem of socialist revolution
Magen David, Mogen David, Shield of David, Solomon's seal, Star of David
a six-pointed star formed from two equilateral triangles; an emblem symbolizing Judaism
an emblem (a small piece of plastic or cloth or metal) that signifies your status (rank or membership or affiliation etc.)
Agnus Dei, Paschal Lamb
figure of a lamb; emblematic of Christ
the emblem of Canada
an emblem indicating that a taxicab is registered
spread eagle
an emblem (an eagle with wings and legs spread) on the obverse of the Great Seal of the United States
Hakenkreuz, swastika
the official emblem of the Nazi Party and the Third Reich; a cross with the arms bent at right angles in a clockwise direction
Type of:
representational process
any basic cognitive process in which some entity comes to stand for or represent something else

n an arbitrary sign (written or printed) that has acquired a conventional significance

British Crown
the symbol of the power of the British monarchy
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stock symbol
the letters used to identify listed companies on the securities exchanges where they are traded
accolade, award, honor, honour, laurels
a tangible symbol signifying approval or distinction
brand, mark, stain, stigma
a symbol of disgrace or infamy
item, token
an individual instance of a type of symbol
all of the tokens of the same symbol
a symbol of inquisitiveness
number, numeral
a symbol used to represent a number
a system of symbols and symbolic representations
the Hindu phallic symbol of Siva
pound, pound sign
a symbol for a unit of currency (especially for the pound sterling in Great Britain)
printed symbol, written symbol
a written or printed symbol
dollar, dollar mark, dollar sign
a symbol of commercialism or greed
a graphic symbol consisting of 2 or more letters combined (usually your initials); printed on stationery or embroidered on clothing
impression, stamp
a symbol that is the result of printing or engraving
the cloak as a symbol of authority
the Crown (or the reigning monarch) as the symbol of the power and authority of a monarchy
a rod carried as a symbol
(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
mark, marker, marking
a distinguishing symbol
a symbol that establishes the identity of the one bearing it
a symbol (like x or y) that is used in mathematical or logical expressions to represent a variable quantity
prize, trophy
something given as a token of victory
(Judaism) the honor of being called up to the reading desk in the synagogue to read from the Torah
academic degree, degree
an award conferred by a college or university signifying that the recipient has satisfactorily completed a course of study
crown, pennant
the award given to the champion
cachet, seal, seal of approval
an indication of approved or superior status
citation, commendation
an official award (as for bravery or service) usually given as formal public statement
honorable mention, mention
an official recognition of merit
letter, varsity letter
an award earned by participation in a school sport
decoration, laurel wreath, medal, medallion, palm, ribbon
an award for winning a championship or commemorating some other event
an award for success in war or hunting
a mark against a person for misconduct or failure; usually given in school or armed forces
bar sinister, bend sinister
a mark of bastardy; lines from top right to bottom left
identification mark on the ear of a domestic animal
identification mark on skin, made by burning
cloven foot, cloven hoof
the mark of Satan
postage, postage stamp, stamp
a small adhesive token stuck on a letter or package to indicate that that postal fees have been paid
trading stamp
a token resembling a stamp given by a retailer to a buyer; the token is redeemable for articles on a special list
Arabic numeral, Hindu numeral, Hindu-Arabic numeral
one of the symbols 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,0
Roman numeral
a symbol in the old Roman notation; I,V,X,L,C,D,M represent 1,5,10,50,100,500,1000 respectively in Arabic notation
antilog, antilogarithm
the number of which a given number is the logarithm
a written or printed symbol (as for punctuation)
character, grapheme, graphic symbol
a written symbol that is used to represent speech
any written symbol standing for a sound or syllable or morpheme or word
a formally registered symbol identifying the manufacturer or distributor of a product
assay-mark, authentication, hallmark
a mark on an article of trade to indicate its origin and authenticity
embossment, imprint
an impression produced by pressure or printing
a stamp affixed to a document (as to attest to its authenticity or to seal it)
crosier, crozier
a staff surmounted by a crook or cross carried by bishops as a symbol of pastoral office
a ceremonial staff carried as a symbol of office or authority
scepter, sceptre, verge, wand
a ceremonial or emblematic staff
staff with a metal tip carried as a sign of office by e.g. a bailiff or constable
an annual award by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for outstanding achievements in television
Nobel prize
an annual award for outstanding contributions to chemistry or physics or physiology and medicine or literature or economics or peace
Academy Award, Oscar
an annual award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for achievements in motion picture production and performance
Prix de Rome
an annual prize awarded by the French government in a competition of painters and artists and sculptors and musicians and architects; the winner in each category receives support for a period of study in Rome
Prix Goncourt
an award given annually for contributions to French literature
a cancellation mark stamped on mail by postal officials; indicates the post office and date of mailing
a distinguishing mark impressed on paper during manufacture; visible when paper is held up to the light
broad arrow
an arrowhead mark identifying British government property
milepost, milestone
stone post at side of a road to show distances
a symbol in a logical or mathematical expression that can be replaced by the name of any member of specified set
unknown, unknown quantity
a variable whose values are solutions of an equation
peg, pin
small markers inserted into a surface to mark scores or define locations etc.
pip, spot
a mark on a die or on a playing card (shape depending on the suit)
an identifying or descriptive marker that is attached to an object
a mound of stones piled up as a memorial or to mark a boundary or path
Type of:
sign, signal, signaling
any nonverbal action or gesture that encodes a message

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