What is the Definition of Symbolize and How is it Used?

Symbols are all around us, whether we realize it or not. From the iconic McDonald’s logo to the American flag, symbols can be found in both the mundane and the extraordinary parts of our lives. But have you ever stopped to think about what it really means to symbolize something? In this article, we will delve into the definition of symbolize and explore some of the ways symbols impact our daily lives.

At its most basic level, to symbolize something means to represent it through the use of a symbol. A symbol is a visual or tangible representation of an idea, emotion, or concept. It’s a way of communicating complex ideas quickly and succinctly, often without using words. For example, a red stop sign is a symbol that communicates to drivers that they should come to a halt. Similarly, the dove is a symbol often used to represent peace and love.

Why do we use symbols? The answer is simple. Symbols allow us to communicate more quickly and effectively. Think about it, which is more time-consuming: describing a stop sign in detail or simply pointing to one? Symbols make it easier for us to share ideas and communicate with one another, even when we don’t share a common language. So, whether we’re traveling to a foreign country, reading a book, or simply walking down the street, symbols are a constant part of our lives, enriching our experiences and making communication more efficient.

Definition of Symbolize

Symbolize refers to the use of a symbol or an object to represent something else. A symbol is defined as an object, mark, or sign that has a particular meaning or significance. The use of symbolism can add depth and meaning to a message, whether it’s in literature, art, or everyday communication.

In art and literature, symbolism is often used to convey complex themes and ideas in a way that can be easily understood. For example, a red rose is often used to represent love, while a skull can represent death or danger. Symbolism is also used in everyday communication, such as in logos, where images or shapes are used to represent a brand or company.

The use of symbolism can be found in virtually every culture and civilization throughout history. In ancient times, symbols were often used in religious and spiritual practices to represent certain deities or beliefs. Today, symbols are used in many different contexts, from corporate logos to national flags.

Importance of symbolism

Symbols are objects, images, or actions that represent something else, often an abstract concept or idea. They play a crucial role in communication and storytelling, as they allow people to convey meaning and evoke emotions in a way that words alone cannot. In the context of literature and art, symbolism has an even greater significance, as it helps to create a deeper, more layered experience for the audience.

  • Conveys complex ideas: Symbols are often used to convey complex or abstract ideas that may be difficult to express through language alone. For example, a red rose can symbolize love or passion, while a broken mirror can represent bad luck or shattered dreams.
  • Elicits emotions: Symbols have the power to evoke strong emotions and create a sense of atmosphere or mood. A dark, stormy night can symbolize danger or uncertainty, while a warm, sunny day can represent happiness and joy.
  • Creates depth: The use of symbols can add depth and dimensionality to a work of art or literature. By using symbols, writers and artists can communicate complex ideas or themes in a way that is more memorable and impactful.

Overall, the importance of symbolism lies in its ability to enhance communication, create emotional resonance, and add depth and meaning to stories and works of art. By using symbols effectively, writers and artists can create a more engaging, memorable experience for their audience.

Types of symbols

There are many different types of symbols, each of which can have different meanings depending on context and culture. Here are a few examples:

Symbol Meaning(s)
Cross Christianity, sacrifice, redemption
Color red Love, passion, danger
Owl Wisdom, mystery, nocturnal
Skull Death, danger, mortality

These are just a few examples of the many symbols that are commonly used in literature, art, and culture. Understanding these symbols and their meanings can help us to better appreciate and interpret the works of others, and to use symbols more effectively in our own creative endeavors.

Types of symbols

Symbolism is the use of symbols to represent ideas or qualities. There are various types of symbols that are essential in different forms of communication. The three major types of symbols include:

  • Universal symbols
  • Cultural symbols
  • Personal symbols

Universal symbols

Universal symbols are easily recognizable and understood by people from different parts of the world, religions and cultures. Some of the common universal symbols are:

  • The color red, which symbolizes danger, passion, love, and power
  • The heart, which symbolizes love and the center of emotions
  • The dove, which symbolizes peace and hope

Cultural symbols

Cultural symbols are objects, gestures, words or images that hold specific meanings to a particular culture or society. These symbols can represent a particular history, tradition or beliefs of that particular culture. Some examples of cultural symbols are:

  • The American flag, which symbolizes democracy, freedom, and unity in the United States
  • The Chinese dragon, which symbolizes power and good luck in Chinese culture
  • The Indian lotus flower, which symbolizes purity, enlightenment and rebirth in Hinduism

Personal symbols

Personal symbols are unique to an individual and can hold various meanings to different people. These symbols can be a specific object, word, or a gesture and can represent a particular memory, person or event. Some common examples of personal symbols are:

A wedding ring that symbolizes love, commitment, and marriage to the wearer.

A butterfly tattoo that symbolizes transformation and growth to the wearer.

A particular song that symbolizes a particular relationship or memory to the listener.


The use of symbols is critical in communication, and it is essential to understand the various types and their meanings to avoid misinterpretation. Whether it is a universal symbol, cultural symbol, or personal symbol, these symbols play a significant role in representing various ideas and beliefs.

Symbol Type Examples
Universal symbols The color red, the heart, the Dove
Cultural symbols The American flag, the Chinese dragon, the Indian lotus flower
Personal symbols Wedding ring, butterfly tattoo, favorite song

The table summarizes the different types of symbols and their examples.

Symbolism in literature

Symbolism is a literary device that uses symbols, objects, or characters to represent abstract ideas or concepts in literature. It is one of the most popular and widely used techniques in literature, and its use can be traced back to ancient times. Symbolism can add richness and depth to a literary work, allowing readers to explore complex ideas through the use of imagery and metaphor. In this article, we will discuss the various aspects of symbolism in literature, including its definition, types, and examples.

The Definition of Symbolize

Symbolism is the use of symbols to represent ideas or qualities. In literature, these symbols can take many different forms, including objects, characters, colors, and events. It is the process of imbuing these symbols with meaning that allows them to convey complex ideas or emotions in a way that is easily understood by the reader. Symbolism is often used in poetry, novels, and plays to create a deeper understanding of a character or an event.

Types of Symbolism

  • Universal Symbolism – this type of symbolism is common across different cultures and languages. Examples include the sun representing life or a dove representing peace.
  • Cultural Symbolism – this type of symbolism is specific to a particular culture or way of life. Examples include a flag representing a country, or a wedding ring representing marriage.
  • Literal Symbolism – this type of symbolism is straightforward and easy to understand. Examples include a white flag representing surrender or a red rose representing love.
  • Figurative Symbolism – this type of symbolism uses metaphor or allegory to convey more complex ideas. Examples include the use of animal characters to represent human traits in fables.

Examples of Symbolism in Literature

Symbolism is used extensively in literature, and its use can be found in everything from classic novels to modern poetry. Some examples of symbolism in literature include:

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne – the scarlet letter represents the sin of adultery that the character Hester must bear as a symbol of her shame.

Animal Farm by George Orwell – the pigs in the novel represent the corrupt leaders of the Soviet Union, while the other animals represent the proletariat who are oppressed by them.

Literary Work Symbol Meaning
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald The Green Light Gatsby’s hope and desire for Daisy
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger The Ducks in the Central Park Lagoon Holden’s fear of change and his desire for stability
The Road by Cormac McCarthy The Boy’s Blanket The only hope and comfort left in a dystopian world

These examples demonstrate the power and versatility of symbolism in literature. By using symbols, writers can create a deeper emotional impact and convey complex ideas in a way that is both accessible and impactful.

Symbolism in Art

Symbolism in art refers to the use of symbols in a piece of artwork to represent a deeper meaning or idea. Symbols can be anything from objects, colors, or images that hold cultural, social, or personal significance.

The Number 5

The number 5 is one of the most commonly used symbols in art and holds significant cultural and spiritual meanings in different parts of the world. Here are some examples:

  • In Chinese culture, the number 5 represents balance and harmony as it is believed there are five elements of nature – earth, fire, water, metal, and wood.
  • In Hinduism, the number 5 represents the five senses and the elements that make up the human body.
  • In Christianity, the number 5 represents the five wounds of Jesus Christ during his crucifixion.

The number 5 is also used in art to represent human qualities such as creativity, curiosity, and individuality. For example, the famous artist Pablo Picasso often used the number 5 in his paintings to symbolize the five fingers on the human hand, representing the human ability to create and build.

Overall, the use of the number 5 as a symbolic element in art can vary depending on cultural and personal beliefs. It is a versatile symbol that can represent anything from spirituality and balance to human creativity and individuality.

Symbolism in Religion

In religion and spirituality, symbolism is an integral part of the practice and teachings. Symbolism refers to the use of symbols, images, or objects to represent ideas, concepts or messages. These symbols possess a deeper, often spiritual meaning beyond their literal interpretation. In this article, we will explore the significance of symbolism in religion by focusing on the number 6 in various religious traditions.

The Significance of the Number 6 in Religion

  • Christianity: In Christianity, the number 6 is significant because God created the world in six days. It also represents imperfection and incompleteness as it falls short of the perfection of the number 7, which represents completion.
  • Islam: In Islam, the number 6 is significant because it represents the six articles of faith and the six pillars of Islam. The six articles of faith include belief in one God, angels, divine books, prophets, the Day of Judgment, and destiny. The six pillars of Islam include the declaration of faith, prayer, charity, fasting, pilgrimage, and jihad.
  • Hinduism: In Hinduism, the number 6 represents balance, harmony, and perfection. It is associated with Lord Shiva, who is often depicted with six arms, each representing a different aspect of the divine. Six is also significant in the practice of yoga, where the six chakras in the body represent different aspects of spiritual awakening.

The Use of Symbolism in Religious Texts

Religious texts, such as the Bible, Quran, and Bhagavad Gita, use symbolism to convey deeper meaning and offer insights into the nature of God, creation, and the human experience. For example, in the Bible, the number 666 is known as the number of the beast and is associated with evil and corruption. In contrast, the number 777 represents perfection and completion.

Religion Symbolism
Christianity Cross
Islam Crescent moon and star
Hinduism Om symbol

Symbolism in religion provides a way for individuals to connect with the divine and understand the mysteries of the universe. It allows for a deeper understanding of the teachings and rituals, and provides a way to communicate complex ideas and concepts.

Symbolism in Cultures Around the World

Symbolism is an important part of many cultures worldwide. From language to artistic expression, symbols are used to convey ideas, emotions, and beliefs. Let’s take a closer look at the symbolism of the number 7.

The number 7 has a special significance in many cultures around the world. Here are a few examples:

  • In Western cultures, the number 7 is often associated with luck or completeness. This is likely due to the fact that there are 7 days in a week, 7 colors in a rainbow, and 7 notes in a musical scale.
  • In Judaism, the number 7 is a symbol of perfection and completion. The Torah teaches that God created the world in 6 days and rested on the 7th, hence the concept of the 7th day being a day of rest.
  • In Islamic tradition, the number 7 is also associated with completion. It is believed that there are 7 levels of heaven and 7 levels of hell, and that the world was created in 7 days.
  • In Chinese culture, the number 7 is associated with togetherness and unity. This is because the word for “7” sounds like the word for “together” in Mandarin Chinese.

As you can see, the symbolism of the number 7 varies widely depending on the culture. It’s fascinating to see how different societies interpret and ascribe meaning to the same symbol.

To give you a visual representation of the symbolism of the number 7, here is a table that shows some additional examples:

Culture Symbolism of 7
Ancient Egyptians The 7 stages of the afterlife
Christianity The 7 deadly sins, the 7 virtues
Native Americans The 7 directions (north, south, east, west, above, below, and within)

Overall, the symbolism of the number 7 is incredibly diverse and rich. Whether you’re exploring different cultures or simply contemplating universal symbols, there’s a lot to discover and appreciate.

Symbolism in Politics

In politics, symbolism is a powerful tool that can be used to convey a message, establish a brand, or rally support for a cause. Whether it’s a flag, a statue, or a logo, political symbols can shape attitudes and inspire action among the masses. Here are some examples of political symbolism and their meanings:

The Number 8

The number 8 is considered to be a lucky number in many cultures, representing prosperity, success, and good fortune. In Chinese culture, 8 is especially revered, as it sounds similar to the word for “wealth” and “fortune.” Thus, it’s no surprise that politicians around the world often incorporate the number 8 into their campaigns and branding.

  • In China, the Beijing Olympics began on 08/08/08 at 8:08 pm, a time and date that was carefully chosen for its auspiciousness.
  • In Singapore, the national airline is called Singapore Airlines, and its flight code is SQ888, in reference to the number’s lucky connotations.
  • In Spain, the national lottery, known as El Gordo (the Fat One), is drawn every year on December 22, which is represented as 22/12 or 12/22 depending on the country. Either way, the date adds up to 8, making it a popular day to play for those who believe in its luck.
Country Example Meaning
China Beijing Olympics Auspiciousness, wealth, fortune
Singapore Singapore Airlines Luck, prosperity
Spain El Gordo lottery Good fortune, prosperity

Incorporating the number 8 into a political campaign or brand can be a way to appeal to superstitious voters or show a sense of optimism and good luck. However, it’s important to be aware of cultural sensitivities and avoid using symbols that may be offensive or controversial to certain groups.

Symbolism in Mythology

Mythology is filled with symbols that represent various ideas, emotions, and concepts. From ancient times to the present day, these symbols play an important role in understanding the stories and cultures that created them.

The Number 9

The number 9 is a symbol that appears in many mythological traditions. In numerology, 9 is considered a sacred number, representing completion, wholeness, and fulfillment. In mythology, the number 9 often represents a similar set of ideas. Here are some examples:

  • In Norse mythology, there are nine worlds connected by Yggdrasil, the world tree. Each of these worlds has its own unique inhabitants and qualities.
  • In Greek mythology, there are nine Muses who preside over the arts and sciences. They inspire creativity and knowledge in those who seek it.
  • In Hindu mythology, there are nine planets (called Navagrahas) that hold significant astrological power. Each planet represents a different aspect of life and influences human destiny.

These are just a few examples of how the number 9 is used as a symbol in mythology. Its association with completion and wholeness makes it a powerful symbol that can represent many different concepts and ideas.

Additionally, the use of the number 9 in mythology may have practical applications as well. Many ancient societies used a number system based on multiples of 9, and the number was often associated with agriculture and the cycles of the seasons. This practical use of the number likely contributed to its symbolic importance in these cultures.

Mythological Tradition Symbolic Use of the Number 9
Norse Representing the nine interconnected worlds of Yggdrasil
Greek Pertaining to the nine Muses and their influence on creativity and knowledge
Hindu Associated with the nine planets and their astrological influence on human destiny

In conclusion, the number 9 is a powerful symbol in mythology that can represent many different concepts and ideas. Its association with completion and wholeness has made it an important symbol in many cultures throughout history.

Symbolism in Everyday Life

Symbolism is the use of symbols to represent ideas or qualities. It can be seen in everyday life, from the symbols on road signs to the logos of companies we recognize. Understanding symbolism can help us interpret the world around us and communicate more effectively.

The Number 10

The number 10 is often seen as a symbol of completeness or perfection. This is due to its association with the Ten Commandments in Christianity, the ten sefirot in Kabbalistic Judaism, and the ten avatars of Vishnu in Hinduism. In numerology, 10 is considered a powerful number, as it reduces to the single digit 1. This suggests new beginnings and the potential for leadership and success.

  • In tarot, the Ten of Cups represents happiness, harmony, and emotional fulfillment.
  • The Olympic games have 10 events in the decathlon, which is considered the ultimate test of an athlete’s abilities.
  • In the metric system, the base unit of length is the meter, which is defined as the distance light travels in 1/299,792,458 of a second.


Category Examples of 10
Mathematics Ten is the base of our number system; 10 is a factor of 100, 1000, and all larger powers of 10; 10 is used to represent binary code in computers (0 and 1)
Music A decibel is a measurement of sound intensity; A decime is one-tenth of a whole tone in music theory
Sport The highest score in gymnastics, diving, and figure skating is often based on a scale of 1 to 10; There are 10 players on a soccer team

Overall, the number 10 has a wide range of symbolisms and meanings across various cultures. It can represent completeness, perfection, new beginnings, and potential for success. Understanding symbolism allows us to appreciate the world around us and interpret the deeper messages behind everyday events and objects.

That’s a Wrap!

And there you have it! A quick and simple understanding of what symbolize means. Whether you’re reading a book, watching a movie, or just scrolling through social media, you now have a better understanding of the symbols around you. Thanks so much for reading, and don’t forget to visit us again for more fun and educational content!