Definition of symbol noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ˈsɪmbl//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈsɪmbl//
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  1. 1  symbol (of something) a person, an object, an event, etc. that represents a more general quality or situation White has always been a symbol of purity in Western cultures. Mandela became a symbol of the anti-apartheid struggle. Synonymssignindication symptom symbol indicator signalThese are all words for an event, action or fact that shows that something exists, is happening or may happen in the future.sign an event, action or fact that shows that something exists, is happening or may happen in the future:Headaches may be a sign of stress.indication (rather formal) a remark or sign that shows that something is happening or what somebody is thinking or feeling:They gave no indication as to how the work should be done.sign or indication?An indication often comes in the form of something that somebody says; a sign is usually something that happens or something that somebody does.symptom a change in your body or mind that shows that you are not healthy; a sign that something exists, especially something bad:Symptoms include a sore throat. The rise in inflation was just one symptom of the poor state of the economy.symbol a person, object or event that represents a more general quality or situation:The dove is a universal symbol of peace.indicator (rather formal) a sign that shows you what something is like or how a situation is changing:the economic indicatorssignal an event, action or fact that shows that something exists, is happening or may happen in the future:Chest pains can be a warning signal of heart problems.sign or signal? Signal is often used to talk about an event, action or fact that suggests to somebody that they should do something. Sign is not usually used in this way:Reducing prison sentences would send the wrong signs to criminals.Patterns a(n) sign/​indication/​symptom/​symbol/​indicator/​signal of something a(n) sign/​indication/​symptom/​indicator/​signal that… a clear sign/​indication/​symptom/​symbol/​indicator/​signal an obvious sign/​indication/​symptom/​symbol/​indicator an early sign/​indication/​symptom/​indicator/​signal an outward sign/​indication/​symbol to give a(n) sign/​indication/​signal
  2. 2  symbol (for something) a sign, number, letter, etc. that has a fixed meaning, especially in science, mathematics and music What is the chemical symbol for copper? A list of symbols used on the map is given in the index.
  3. see also sex symbol, status symbol
    Word Originlate Middle English (denoting the Apostles' Creed): from Latin symbolum ‘symbol, Creed (as the mark of a Christian)’, from Greek sumbolon ‘mark, token’, from sun- ‘with’ + ballein ‘to throw’.Extra examples A list of phonetic symbols is given in the front of the dictionary. A stressful job can actually be a status symbol. All GM products carry an identifying symbol. Always look out for the special ABTA symbol at your travel agent’s. Eggs are seen as the symbol of new life. Guevara has come to represent a powerful symbol of defiance. He is not most people’s idea of a sex symbol. Hotels that show this symbol offer activities for children. O is the chemical symbol for oxygen. The Berlin wall was the supreme symbol of the Cold War. The bottle had a skull and crossbones symbol on it. The coin bears a Jewish symbol. The company car is an outward symbol of the employee’s status. The dove is a universal symbol of peace. The people use fertility symbols to ensure a good harvest. The villagers took fertility symbols into the fields to ensure a good harvest. What does this little symbol mean? You can use your tokens wherever you see this symbol. a message written in symbols a symbol of royal power
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: symbol

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