Use the verb symbolize when you use an image, shape, color, or other simple visual to stand for something else, like when you wear black to symbolize that you're mourning a loss.

To symbolize is to make a symbol out of something. Symbolize traces back to the Greek word symbolon, which combines syn-, meaning "together," and bol, meaning "to throw." The earliest Christians were, so to speak, "thrown together" because of their beliefs, and so the Christian "marks" that represented their belief in one God became the first items to be described as symbols.

Definitions of symbolize

v express indirectly by an image, form, or model; be a symbol

“What does the Statue of Liberty symbolize?”
represent, stand for, symbolise, typify
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be, embody, personify
represent, as of a character on stage
epitomise, epitomize, typify
embody the essential characteristics of or be a typical example of
body, personify
invest with or as with a body; give body to
exemplify, represent
be characteristic of
Type of:
intend, mean
mean or intend to express or convey

v represent or identify by using a symbol; use symbols

“The poet symbolizes love in this poem”
“These painters believed that artists should symbolize
Type of:
describe or present, usually with respect to a particular quality

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