Definition of symbolic in English:

symbolic

Pronunciation /simˈbälik/ /sɪmˈbɑlɪk/

adjective

  • 1Serving as a symbol.

    ‘a repeating design symbolic of eternity’
    • ‘A stone is also symbolic of eternity, like the cornerstone of a building, placed to last for all time.’
    • ‘Perhaps, too, this is symbolic of a psychological disruption as Warhol the man attempts to reclaim himself from Warhol the legend.’
    • ‘The exploration and searching of the butterfly may be symbolic of the poet's search for an explanation or a meaning for the death of someone close to him.’
    • ‘Bronze bells are not only percussion instruments but also ritual instruments symbolic of social status and power.’
    • ‘It is symbolic of loneliness, but also safety and guidance.’
    • ‘It's symbolic of the acceptance by the people of the new monarch and acceptance of the new monarch to serve.’
    • ‘They feel this is symbolic of the problems we face in the nation.’
    • ‘Dirty hospitals are symbolic of an under-funded health service.’
    • ‘For Baxter, it seems symbolic of his becoming - in late middle age - a family man for the first time.’
    • ‘The flag is symbolic of the Democracy in which we are lucky enough to live.’
    • ‘The castle site is symbolic of York's importance in national affairs of state, much of which is forgotten by people, or not known.’
    • ‘This seems to be symbolic of the many recent developments which simply do not belong in the community.’
    • ‘To me this is symbolic of the effect of the book - shedding light on what otherwise might be passed by unnoticed.’
    • ‘But the failure to open up the reserve to oil exploration is symbolic of environmentalism's influence.’
    • ‘An inverted glass is symbolic of the fact that those missing are unable to raise their glasses in a toast.’
    • ‘The destruction of both wall and statue is symbolic of breaking free from oppression, and the elation on the faces of the people was the same.’
    • ‘A building can be symbolic of power, but it can also be a folly.’
    • ‘The world's most famous steam locomotive is symbolic of British industry, innovation and engineering.’
    • ‘They also somehow seem to be symbolic of our throwaway consumer society.’
    • ‘The city has today become symbolic of the systematic and sustained devaluation of the dignity of women.’
    figurative, representative, illustrative, emblematic, allegorical, parabolic, non-literal, allusive, denotative, connotative, suggestive, mnemonic
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    1. 1.1Significant purely in terms of what is being represented or implied.
      ‘the release of the dissident was an important symbolic gesture’
      • ‘Their proposal for a nuclear-free zone is a largely symbolic but very significant gesture.’
      • ‘The handshake was a symbolic gesture signifying that intention.’
      • ‘Some people have suggested as a symbolic gesture, perhaps, it would be demolished.’
      • ‘Now, the loss of Spain is more politically symbolic than militarily significant.’
      • ‘And never mind that the summit may turn out to be a purely symbolic event.’
      • ‘In Aaronovitch's telling, events in the Balkans become purely symbolic.’
      • ‘But as well as the bread and butter issues, there is a significant symbolic loss for republicans.’
      • ‘Her term two has been a much rockier ride than her more symbolic, ambassadorial first term.’
      • ‘The apology for slavery is important in symbolic terms only, especially given the crisis in Liberia.’
      • ‘In measuring that weakness, his sexual misbehaviour is more symbolic than significant.’
      • ‘It has more to do with the need to be seen supporting the Palestinians, even if only in a purely symbolic way.’
      • ‘The process of disarmament thus assumes a purely symbolic character.’
      • ‘The presentations represented a symbolic passing of the torch from one generation to the next.’
      • ‘I also think that maybe this was a symbolic journey, representing my quest to my inner psyche.’
      • ‘However, the territories gained were significant only in a symbolic way.’
      • ‘To date, their achievements have been purely symbolic or legislative rather than financial.’
      • ‘In such a circumstance the label under which punishment is imposed would appear to be purely symbolic.’
      • ‘In symbolic terms, a national currency is felt by some to be part of the very idea of nationhood.’
      • ‘In a symbolic gesture Chambers cut his annual salary to $1 to appease shareholders and departing employees.’
      • ‘All the while, the world makes symbolic gestures of concern and assistance.’
      emblematic, representative, typical, characteristic, distinctive, symptomatic
      View synonyms
  • 2Involving the use of symbols or symbolism.

    ‘the symbolic meaning of motifs and designs’
    • ‘A single large, spoked wheel above the train takes the painting into the symbolic realm.’
    • ‘"I think that 'The Scream' is one of the best paintings in the world. It is a great symbolic painting."’
    • ‘Cotton's highly symbolic paintings make statements about the value of land, Maori land concerns and the impact of colonisation.’
    • ‘If one were to judge Watts on his late, symbolic work, one might give him low marks for technique, anatomy and draughtsmanship.’

Origin

Mid 17th century from French symbolique or late Latin symbolicus, from Greek sumbolikos. The adjective symbolical dates from the early 17th century.

Pronunciation

symbolic

/simˈbälik/ /sɪmˈbɑlɪk/