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[sim-buh-list] /ˈsɪm bə lɪst/
a person who uses symbols or symbolism.
a person versed in the study or interpretation of symbols.
  1. a writer who seeks to express or evoke emotions, ideas, etc., by stressing the symbolic value of language, to which is ascribed a capacity for communicating otherwise inexpressible visions of reality.
  2. (usually initial capital letter) a member of a group of chiefly French and Belgian poets of the latter part of the 19th century who sought to evoke aesthetic emotions by emphasizing the associative character of verbal, often private, images or by using synesthetic devices, as vowel sounds, presumably evocative of color.
Fine Arts.
  1. an artist who seeks to symbolize or suggest ideas or emotions by the objects represented, the colors used, etc.
  2. (usually initial capital letter) a member of a group of late 19th-century artists who rejected realism and sought to express subjective visions rather than objective reality through the use of evocative images.
(often initial capital letter) Ecclesiastical. a person who rejects the doctrine of transubstantiation and views the Eucharist symbolically.
a person who favors the use of symbols in religious services.
of or relating to symbolists or symbolism.
Origin of symbolist
1575-85; symbol + -ist
Related forms
symbolistic, adjective
symbolistically, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for symbolistic
Historical Examples
  • But as the children grow more penetrating, the fable is the best possible form of symbolistic literature to set them at first.

    Literature in the Elementary School Porter Lander MacClintock
  • The new movement has been called "neo-romantic" and "symbolistic."

    Five Plays Edward John Dunsany
  • They have all been worked over, codified, filled with theological and symbolistic content by priests and poets.

    Literature in the Elementary School Porter Lander MacClintock
  • They are the numerous progeny of the elder Romantic, Realistic, and symbolistic schools, long dead and gathered to their fathers.

    Unicorns James Huneker
  • No native ball would be complete without the symbolistic dance which so epitomizes Filipino character.

  • The general broadening of literary variety has, of course, given us in recent times many valuable stories of the symbolistic kind.

    Children's Literature Charles Madison Curry
  • One play from his (Strindberg's) third, or symbolistic period stands almost alone.

    More Portmanteau Plays Stuart Walker
  • Seor Puchol was a literary man and was writing a symbolistic drama which he wanted to read to Csar.

    Csar or Nothing Po Baroja Baroja
  • The volumes which follow are in vers libres, and they are, to a certain extent, symbolistic.

British Dictionary definitions for symbolistic


a person who uses or can interpret symbols, esp as a means to revealing aspects of truth and reality
an artist or writer who practises symbolism in his work
(usually capital) a writer associated with the symbolist movement
(often capital) an artist associated with the movement of symbolism
(Christian theol) a person who rejects any interpretation of the Eucharist that suggests that Christ is really present in it, and who maintains that the bread and wine are only symbols of his body and blood
of, relating to, or characterizing symbolism or symbolists
Derived Forms
symbolistic, adjective
symbolistically, adverb
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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