What are symbols? The definition of a symbol is something that
represents something else through association or resemblance. A
symbol is a sign, emblem or an image. In writing, letters or
characters are symbols. Businesses and other organisations use logos
to identify and represent their name or brand. Hieroglyphics are
another form of symbol used in ancient Egyptian writing.
What is a
sign? A sign can be described as an indicator, a clue, hint,
reminder, gesture or a cue. A sign used by a brand is known as a
trademark. Signs refer to objects in a more literal way, such as
pointing something out or standing for something.
Signs & Symbols
Click on one of the links below to read the history, origin and meaning
of a huge selection of signs:
Signs & Symbols - The Difference!
Although the terms 'Sign' and 'Symbol' are often used together,
they are in fact very different! A sign is used to depict or
represent something. For example a road sign warns us of the speed
limit or of impending danger. Designer clothes display a sign for
all to see how expensive our shirts, shoes and even sunglasses are
whereas a symbol has a deeper meaning. Signs and symbols share the
same function but the often spiritual and religious meaning of a
symbol give it a different quality to that of a sign.
Signs & Symbols
of the word 'symbol' is 'to throw together'. It is derived from the
ancient Greek word 'symballein'. Symbols,
Signs and Abbreviations have been used for centuries and the use of
signs and abbreviations are as old as the use of alphabets!
Signs and abbreviations were originally used where space was an
issue, for example on a coin where an abbreviation would be used to
represent a long Latin phrase. Hieroglyphs were a formal writing
system that was used by the ancient Egyptians, they combined
alphabetic and logographic elements.
There are many different types of signs and symbols including:
Coat of Arms
Signs & Symbols - Symbolism
an international language used for centuries. The term 'a picture
speaks a thousand words' is an ideal way to describe a symbol. A
simple picture or image can convey a message often too complicated
to be explained in several sentences. We see symbols everyday of our
lives, some help us to identify the correct speed to drive on a road
or warn us of danger ahead. Others such as the Christian crucifix
identify an individuals belief. We consult magazines and newspapers
to read our horoscope, recognise our 'sign' from the astrological
symbol. Company symbols, better known as
logos are easily identified no matter what country we are in or the
language spoken. The logo for our favorite fast food restaurant is instantly
recognisable whether we are in London, Cairo or Beijing!
Signs & Symbols
A symbol can be created from a
variety of sources. A religious symbol identifies an individuals spiritual
belief or is used to identify a building belonging to a particular faith. Tarot cards use
individual signs to predict our future fate or destiny. The number of symbols
that exist will never be known, new symbols are created every day of the
year in every country of the world. New companies are established every
day, they design their logo, and use the logo as a symbol associated
with its identity. New brands and products are identified by their symbol.
Signs & Symbols - Universal Language
The use of signs and symbols is a great way of saying something quickly, they are a
universal language and understood no matter what language or dialect
spoken. Corporate logos are an example of this, the Coca-Cola and Mac Donald's sign are instantly recognisable by people from all parts of the
Before books when manuscripts were used, abbreviations and signs were
very common as they not only saved the writer time due to the fact all
the work had to be written by hand, they also saved space and were
therefore a more cost effective option.
Once printed books were introduced, the need for signs and
abbreviations was not so great but this did not stop their use. A
dictionary of symbols and abbreviations has been provided for reference
as well as the history behind the individual signs origins.
Signs & Symbols -
Other examples of symbols include Road Signs, Musical Notes, Health and
Safety Signs, Currency, Zodiac, Astrological and
Horoscope Symbols, Tattoos, Chinese Writing Symbols as well as
emoticons used commonly in social networking platforms such as Twitter
and Facebook as well as mobile phone text or instant messaging where
space is limited.
Signs & Symbols - Bird
have deep symbolic significance. Birds are said to be able to
communicate with gods; they can ascend into heaven and birds are even a
feature of the Tree of Life often depicted with a serpent at their feet.
The symbol of the blackbird for example has a deep significance to Christians. The
Devil appeared to St Benedict to tempt him in the form of a blackbird.
In Christianity, Blackbirds also symbolise temptation of the flesh. The
bird also has symbolic meaning to particular religions.
Signs & Symbols - Color Symbolism
One of the the easiest ways to identify something
immediately regardless of language or culture is through colour. A baby dressed in pink is
an obvious sign that the gender of the infant is female despite the
language or country. A red road sign warns us of danger even if we might
not recognise the symbol instantly. A country or sports team use colors
to identify themselves through their flag and its colours. Colours
are often mentioned in everyday language as well as literary terms to
portray a persons feelings or emotions, being "green with envy" or "in a
black mood" are familiar terms to describe jealously and feeling down.
Signs & Symbols - Music
Find out about a
selection of music symbols used to represent
musical scores and compositions in music notation. They include well
known symbols such as the treble clef and staff but music symbols are also used to
represent the pitch, rhythm and tempo of music. Find out about a
selection of music symbols as well as their meaning and significance.
Did you know that the four elements attributed to music are Rhythm,
Melody, Harmony and Timbre (better known as tone-quality)? Read more
about each of the individual elements.
Signs & Symbols - Zodiac
about different Zodiac symbols. In
many cultures it is believed that there is a link between the
position of the sun, moon and other planets at the time of a persons
birth. This position gives an individual certain personality traits
as well as predicting events which are likely to occur in their
life. Information on all twelve of the zodiac signs!
Signs & Symbols - Flag
Find out about a selection of different flags. Did you know that the study of flags is called Vexillology? The idea of flying a flag grew from the
requirements of ancient warfare and the battlefield. Shields were
painted with emblems or symbols to identify friend or enemy. Warriors
needed to know where their leaders were hence the custom of carrying a
pole was adopted and subsequently the idea of flags began!
Signs & Symbol - Health & Safety Signs
Health and Safety signs and road signs are examples of symbols that are
created to be recognised by individuals regardless of the language they
Signs & Symbol -
There are literally thousands of American symbols. Each state has its
own unique symbol and there are many patriotic symbols with deep
significance to the American people including national symbols such as
the Statue of Liberty, the US Flag, the Bald Eagle and the American national
anthem 'The Star Spangled Banner'. Discover facts and information about
a variety of US symbols.
Signs and Symbols