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
  1. noun
    something visible that by association or convention represents something else that is invisible
    “the eagle is a symbol of the United States”
    synonyms: symbolic representation, symbolisation, symbolization
    see moresee less
    show 23 types...
    hide 23 types...
    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
  2. noun
    an arbitrary sign (written or printed) that has acquired a conventional significance
    see moresee less
    show 68 types...
    hide 68 types...
    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
    insignia, 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
    a small, often stylized graphic symbol
    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
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week