symbol

[sim-buhl]
noun
1.
something used for or regarded as representing something else; a material object representing something, often something immaterial; emblem, token, or sign.
2.
a letter, figure, or other character or mark or a combination of letters or the like used to designate something: the algebraic symbol x; the chemical symbol Au.
3.
(especially in semiotics) a word, phrase, image, or the like having a complex of associated meanings and perceived as having inherent value separable from that which is symbolized, as being part of that which is symbolized, and as performing its normal function of standing for or representing that which is symbolized: usually conceived as deriving its meaning chiefly from the structure in which it appears, and generally distinguished from a sign.
verb (used with object), symboled, symboling or (especially British) symbolled, symbolling.
4.
to use symbols; symbolize.

Origin:
1400–50; late Middle English < Latin symbolum < Greek sýmbolon sign, equivalent to sym- sym- + -bolon, neuter for bolḗ (feminine) a throw

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World English Dictionary
symbol (ˈsɪmbəl)
 
n
1.  something that represents or stands for something else, usually by convention or association, esp a material object used to represent something abstract
2.  an object, person, idea, etc, used in a literary work, film, etc, to stand for or suggest something else with which it is associated either explicitly or in some more subtle way
3.  a letter, figure, or sign used in mathematics, science, music, etc to represent a quantity, phenomenon, operation, function, etc
4.  psychoanal the end product, in the form of an object or act, of a conflict in the unconscious between repression processes and the actions and thoughts being repressed: the symbols of dreams
5.  psychol any mental process that represents some feature of external reality
 
vb , -bols, -bolling, -bolled, -bols, -boling, -boled
6.  (tr) another word for symbolize
 
[C15: from Church Latin symbolum, from Greek sumbolon sign, from sumballein to throw together, from syn- + ballein to throw]

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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

symbol
c.1434, "creed, summary, religious belief," from L.L. symbolum "creed, token, mark," from Gk. symbolon "token, watchword" (applied c.250 by Cyprian of Carthage to the Apostles' Creed, on the notion of the "mark" that distinguishes Christians from pagans), lit. "that which is thrown or cast together,"
from syn- "together" + bole "a throwing, a casting, the stroke of a missile, bolt, beam," from bol-, nom. stem of ballein "to throw" (see ballistics). The sense evolution in Gk. is from "throwing things together" to "contrasting" to "comparing" to "token used in comparisons to determine if something is genuine." Hence, "outward sign" of something. The meaning "something which stands for something else" first recorded 1590 (in "Faerie Queene"). Symbolic is attested from 1680.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

symbol sym·bol (sĭm'bəl)
n.

  1. Something that represents something else by association, resemblance, or convention, especially a material object used to represent something invisible.

  2. A printed or written sign used to represent an operation, an element, a quantity, or a relation, as in mathematics or chemistry.

  3. A conventional sign.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
symbol   (sĭm'bəl)  Pronunciation Key 


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A conventional, printed or written figure used to represent an operation, element, quantity, relation, unit of measurement, phenomenon, or descriptor. Also called sign.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

symbol definition


An object or name that stands for something else, especially a material thing that stands for something that is not material. The bald eagle is a symbol of the United States of America. The cross is a symbol of Christianity. The Star of David is a symbol of Judaism.

symbol definition


Something that represents or suggests something else. Symbols often take the form of words, visual images, or gestures that are used to convey ideas and beliefs. All human cultures use symbols to express the underlying structure of their social systems, to represent ideal cultural characteristics, such as beauty, and to ensure that the culture is passed on to new generations. Symbolic relationships are learned rather than biologically or naturally determined, and each culture has its own symbols.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
Conjugate will have to explain his chess pieces and other symbols.
Flags, songs, and other cultural symbols are used to identify nations.
The experimenters did explain why they used words instead of symbols.
Imagine a world hidden in the midst of our own, one in which you notice clues
  and symbols that elude you in your everyday life.
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