from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Serving as a symbol.
  • adjective Serving as a particular instance of a broader pattern or situation; representative.
  • adjective Of, relating to, or expressed by means of symbols or a symbol.
  • adjective Using symbolism.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Of or pertaining to symbolism, 4.
  • Of or pertaining to symbols; of the nature of a symbol; serving as a symbol; representative: as, the figure of an eye is symbolic of sight and knowledge.
  • In grammar, formal; relational; connective: sometimes noting words having a formal or relational value.
  • In mathematics, dealing with symbols of operation.
  • noun Same as symbolics.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Theol.) See symbolics.
  • adjective Of or pertaining to a symbol or symbols; of the nature of a symbol; exhibiting or expressing by resemblance or signs; representative.
  • adjective (Law) the delivery of property sold by delivering something else as a symbol, token, or representative of it.
  • adjective the philosophy expressed by hieroglyphics.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Pertaining to a symbol.
  • adjective Referring to something with an implicit meaning.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective relating to or using or proceeding by means of symbols
  • adjective using symbolism
  • adjective serving as a visible symbol for something abstract


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From French symbolique or directly from Latin symbolicus, from Ancient Greek συμβολικός (symbolikos, "of or belonging to a symbol")


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  • Many others followed Drucker; Robert Reich coined the phrase "symbolic analysts" much the same as Drucker's "knowledge workers" for those trained to use information in a way that allowed them to thrive in a shifting, information-rich networked world.

    Robert Teitelman: Svengalis, Bankers and the Role of Intermediaries Robert Teitelman 2011

  • Nomos Alpha, from 1966, is an example of what he called symbolic music, in which the order of musical events is determined according to mathematical rules, while Kottos, composed 11 years later, is a portrait of one of the giants from Greek mythology who fought with Zeus against the Titans.

    Xenakis: Complete Works for Cello – review 2012

  • The whole symbolism thing would be stupid and meaningless, except that the symbolic is at least as important as the substantial to the pathologically biased and absurd human being.

    Oh, *no*. *More* political maps inciting violence! | RedState 2010

  • President Calderon comparing the fence on our southern border to quote, "the Berlin Wall", saying that Mexicans in the United States are what he calls symbolic hostages of the illegal immigration issue.

    CNN Transcript Feb 11, 2008 2008

  • Commission for the provision of what it described as symbolic reparations.

    ANC Daily News Briefing 2002

  • As an illustration of what he calls symbolic movements, I will quote his remarks (p. 37), taken from M. Chevreul, on a man playing at billiards.

    The expression of the emotions in man and animals 1898

  • I shall endeavour to show how I trace the connection of my earlier and my later life; how my earlier life has proved for me the means of understanding my later; how, in general, my own individual life has become to me a key to the universal life, or, in short, to what I call the symbolic life and the perpetual, conditioned, and unbroken chain of existence.

    Autobiography of Friedrich Froebel Froebel, Friedrich, 1782-1852 1889

  • The small group gathered on Thursday for a march toward what it called a "symbolic site of finance and capitalism," with plans for an unidentified "action," but dozens of police moved in and encircled the protesters.

    The Seattle Times 2011

  • Democrats say they won't let a bill pass the Senate with the subsidies provision, which they described as a symbolic gesture aimed at trying to force them to negotiate with the House on the labor issue. Front Page 2011

  • Democrats say they won't let a bill pass the Senate with the subsidies provision, which they described as a symbolic gesture aimed at trying to force them to negotiate with the House on the labor issue. Front Page 2011


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