symbolic (of something) containing symbols, or being used as a symbol The dove is symbolic of peace. He shook his fist in a symbolic gesture of defiance. The Channel Tunnel has enormous symbolic significance for a united Europe. The new regulations are largely symbolic (= they will not have any real effect). See related entries: Describing art Word Origin mid 17th cent.: from French symbolique or late Latin symbolicus, from Greek sumbolikos.Extra examples The case became symbolic of US racial tension. The role of monarch is a purely symbolic one. These two objects are symbolic of life and death. This is a gruesome and heavily symbolic tale. The new regulations are largely symbolic.