Definitions

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

  • noun The practice of representing things by means of symbols or of attributing symbolic meanings or significance to objects, events, or relationships.
  • noun A system of symbols or representations.
  • noun A symbolic meaning or representation.
  • noun Revelation or suggestion of intangible conditions or truths by artistic invention.
  • noun The movement, theory, or practice of the late 19th-century Symbolists.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The investing of things with a symbolic meaning or character; the use of symbols.
  • noun Symbolic character.
  • noun An exposition or comparison of symbols or creeds.
  • noun [capitalized] The theories and practice of the Symbolist School. See Symbolist, n., 2.
  • noun An abnormal mental state in which every occurrence is interpreted as a symbol of the subject's own sensations and thoughts.

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

  • noun The act of symbolizing, or the state of being symbolized.
  • noun A system of symbols or representations.
  • noun obsolete, obsolete The practice of using symbols, or the system of notation developed thereby.
  • noun obsolete A combining together of parts or ingredients.
  • noun (Theol.) The science of creeds; symbolics.

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

  • noun Representation of a concept through symbols or underlying meanings of objects or qualities.
  • noun obsolete A combining together of parts or ingredients.

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

  • noun a system of symbols and symbolic representations
  • noun the practice of investing things with symbolic meaning
  • noun an artistic movement in the late 19th century that tried to express abstract or mystical ideas through the symbolic use of images

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Coined between 1645 and 1655 from symbol and -ism.

Examples

  • But we now arrive at a higher division of masonic symbolism, which, passing beyond these tangible symbols, brings us to those which are of a more abstruse nature, and which, as being developed in a ceremonial form, controlled and directed by the ritual of the order, may be designated as the _ritualistic symbolism_ of Freemasonry.

    The Symbolism of Freemasonry

  • The name symbolism is also entirely French, referring to Mlle.

    MARKETING AESTHETICS

  • The name symbolism is also entirely French, referring to Mlle.

    MARKETING AESTHETICS

  • The name symbolism is also entirely French, referring to Mlle.

    MARKETING AESTHETICS

  • Still, the term symbolism did not catch on in Germany as a name for any specific poetic group, though Hofmannsthal, e.g., in “Das Gespräch über Gedichte” (1903), pro - claimed the symbol the one element necessary in po - etry.

    Dictionary of the History of Ideas

  • However, ornamental and architectural forms frequently do convey a meaning, which we term symbolism in art.

    Scientific American Supplement, No. 598, June 18, 1887

  • In these remarks translated from Portuguese, the Brazilian leader referred to what she described as the symbolism of the first meeting between Brazil's first female president, and the first African-American president of the United States.

    Obama in Brazil, But Libyan Concerns at Forefront

  • In these remarks translated from Portuguese, the Brazilian leader referred to what she described as the symbolism of the first meeting between Brazil's first female president, and the first African-American president of the United States.

    Obama in Brazil, But Libyan Concerns at Forefront

  • In these remarks translated from Portuguese, the Brazilian leader referred to what she described as the symbolism of the first meeting between Brazil's first female president, and the first African-American president of the United States.

    Obama in Brazil, But Libyan Concerns at Forefront

  • Bradford: Eric and I have argued that the symbolism is the consequence of assignment.

    Bits and Pieces of an RNA World

Comments

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  • It said that all people who are happy have God within them. And that happiness could be found in a grain of sand from the desert, as the alchemist had said. Because a grain of sand is a moment of creation and the universe has taken millions of years to create it.

    -The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

    July 27, 2009