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How to pronounce symbolism (audio)
The Complete Vocabulary Builder Workbook

Dictionary definition of symbolism

The use of symbols or symbolic elements to represent abstract ideas, concepts, or emotions in a work of art or literature.
"The movie's use of imagery and symbolism added depth and complexity to the story."

Detailed meaning of symbolism

Symbolism can take many forms, such as objects, colors, animals, or even actions or gestures that carry deeper meanings beyond their literal interpretation. Symbolism is often used to enhance the emotional impact of a work, providing a way to convey complex or abstract ideas in a more accessible and memorable way. It can also be used to create a sense of unity and coherence, linking different elements of a work together through shared symbolic associations. In literature, symbolism is a common technique used by writers to convey themes, motifs, or subtext, adding depth and richness to the text. In art, symbolism can be used to create visual metaphors or allegories, representing the human condition or exploring universal themes through imagery. Overall, symbolism is a powerful tool for communication and artistic expression, enabling creators to convey complex ideas and emotions through simple and evocative symbols.

Example sentences containing symbolism

1. The symbolism of the dove often represents peace in art.
2. In literature, colors are frequently used for symbolism.
3. The author's use of a rose held deeper symbolism.
4. The film employed religious symbolism to convey its message.
5. The novel's title held significant symbolism.
6. The painting's use of light was rich in symbolism.

History and etymology of symbolism

The noun 'symbolism' finds its etymological origins in the Latin word 'symbolum,' which means 'a mark or token' or 'a sign.' This Latin term, in turn, was derived from the Greek word 'symbolon,' where 'sym' means 'together' and 'ballein' means 'to throw' or 'to cast.' In ancient Greece, a 'symbolon' was a token or mark that could be broken in half and given to two parties as a sign of recognition or agreement. When the two halves were brought together, they verified the authenticity of the individuals involved. Over time, the concept evolved from a physical token into the use of symbols or symbolic elements to convey abstract ideas, concepts, or emotions, particularly in works of art or literature. The etymology of 'symbolism' underscores its fundamental essence as a means of bringing different elements together to represent deeper, often intangible, meanings and connections within creative expression.

Quiz: Find the meaning of symbolism

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Further usage examples of symbolism

1. The play used the symbol of a ladder for spiritual symbolism.
2. In poetry, nature is a common source of symbolism.
3. The sculptor incorporated cultural symbolism into the statue.
4. The use of an hourglass carried a sense of mortality symbolism.
5. In religious texts, the serpent often carries dual symbolism.
6. The filmmaker explored political symbolism in the documentary.
7. The symbolism of the phoenix represents rebirth.
8. In mythology, the owl holds symbolic wisdom.
9. The artist's use of mirrors had profound symbolism.
10. The novel's setting was rich with historical symbolism.
11. In architecture, the use of arches can hold symbolic meaning.
12. The flag's colors are loaded with national symbolism.
13. The dance performance was filled with cultural symbolism.
14. The author's choice of a river symbolized the passage of time.
15. The artist's use of color was rich with symbolism.
16. The writer employed powerful symbolism to convey the novel's themes.
17. The tattoo had deep symbolic meaning for its wearer.
18. The play's use of symbolism created a haunting and memorable atmosphere.
19. The logo was designed with careful attention to its symbolic significance.
20. The dream's symbolism was difficult to interpret.
21. The poem's symbolism drew from nature and the natural world.
22. The novel's repeated use of a particular symbol created a sense of unity and coherence.
23. The painting's symbolism was a reflection of the artist's personal experiences and beliefs.
24. The religious text was full of powerful symbolism and allegory.
25. The politician's use of symbolism in her speeches resonated with many voters.

metaphor, literalness, directness, straightforwardness

Suffix -ism, Literary and Artistic Elements, Inventive and Inspired, Words and Language, Middle School 8, Writing and Composing




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