Main Entry: sym·bol·ic
Pronunciation: \sim-ˈbä-lik\
Variant(s): also sym·bol·i·cal \-li-kəl\
Function: adjective
Date: 1610
1 a : using, employing, or exhibiting a symbol b : consisting of or proceeding by means of symbols
2 : of, relating to, or constituting a symbol
3 : characterized by or terminating in symbols <symbolic thinking>
4 : characterized by symbolism <a symbolic dance>
— sym·bol·i·cal·ly \-li-k(ə-)lē\ adverb


Main Entry: sym·bol·ism
Pronunciation: \ˈsim-bə-ˌli-zəm\
Function: noun
Date: 1654
1 : the art or practice of using symbols esp. by investing things with a symbolic meaning or by expressing the invisible or intangible by means of visible or sensuous representations: as a : artistic imitation or invention that is a method of revealing or suggesting immaterial, ideal, or otherwise intangible truth or states b : the use of conventional or traditional signs in the representation of divine beings and spirits
2 : a system of symbols or representations


cambridge on line

symbolic adjective

/sɪmˈbɒl.ɪk//-ˈbɑː.lɪk/ adj


representing something else
The skull at the bottom of the picture is symbolic of death.

describes an action that expresses or seems to express an intention or feeling, but which has little practical influence on a situation
Five hundred troops were sent in, more as a symbolic gesture than as a real threat.