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[ahy-kuh-nog-ruh-fee] /ˌaɪ kəˈnɒg rə fi/
noun, plural iconographies.
symbolic representation, especially the conventional meanings attached to an image or images.
subject matter in the visual arts, especially with reference to the conventions regarding the treatment of a subject in artistic representation.
the study or analysis of subject matter and its meaning in the visual arts; iconology.
a representation or a group of representations of a person, place, or thing, as a portrait or a collection of portraits.
1620-30; < Medieval Latin īconographia < Greek eikonographía. See icono-, -graphy
Related forms
[ahy-kon-uh-graf, -grahf] /aɪˈkɒn əˌgræf, -ˌgrɑf/ (Show IPA),
iconographer, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for iconography
  • Essays on the iconography of seduction range from film to fashion.
  • We are inescapably surrounded by their culture, iconography and ideology.
  • Improved iconography for folders, collections, collection sets and output collections.
  • And of course there is the reaction to the current war that comes in the iconography.
  • In its time, heavy metal's iconography was serious, heady stuff.
  • Even the iconography of scandal feels different here.
  • Although it is kind of perplexing how such iconography came about.
  • One graphic designer tallies the iconography of two cities.
  • Kate, is an art historian who is supposed to be writing her book on iconography.
  • The plot-crammed movie is genuinely transfixing, as it taps the master's inexhaustible magic hat of scattershot iconography.
British Dictionary definitions for iconography


noun (pl) -phies
  1. the symbols used in a work of art or art movement
  2. the conventional significance attached to such symbols
a collection of pictures of a particular subject, such as Christ
the representation of the subjects of icons or portraits, esp on coins
Derived Forms
iconographer, noun
iconographic (aɪˌkɒnəˈɡræfɪk), iconographical, adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for iconography

1620s, from Medieval Latin iconographia, from Greek eikonographia "sketch, description," from eikon (see icon) + -graphia (see -graphy). Related: Iconographic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for iconography

the science of identification, description, classification, and interpretation of symbols, themes, and subject matter in the visual arts. The term can also refer to the artist's use of this imagery in a particular work. The earliest iconographical studies, published in the 16th century, were catalogs of emblems and symbols collected from antique literature and translated into pictorial terms for the use of artists. The most famous of these works is Cesare Ripa's Iconologia (1593). Extensive iconographical study did not begin in Europe until the 18th century, however, when, as a companion to archaeology, it consisted of the classification of subjects and motifs in ancient monuments.

Learn more about iconography with a free trial on
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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