A symbol is a mark, sign or word that indicates, signifies, or is understood as representing an idea, object, or relationship. Symbols allow people to go beyond what is known or seen by creating linkages between otherwise very different concepts and experiences. All communication (and data processing) is achieved through the use of symbols. Symbols take the form of words, sounds, gestures, ideas or visual images and are used to convey other ideas and beliefs. For example, a red octagon may be a symbol for "STOP". On a map, a blue line might represent a river. Numerals are symbols for numbers. Alphabetic letters may be symbols for sounds. Personal names are symbols representing individuals. A red rose may symbolize love and compassion. The variable 'x', in a mathematical equation, may symbolize the position of a particle in space.
The word symbol derives from the Greek σύμβολον symbolon, meaning "token, watchword" from σύν syn "together" and βάλλω bállō " "I throw, put." The sense evolution in Greek is from "throwing things together" to "contrasting" to "comparing" to "token used in comparisons to determine if something is genuine." Hence, "outward sign" of something. The meaning "something which stands for something else" was first recorded in 1590, in Edmund Spenser's Faerie Queene.
Symbols are a means of complex communication that often can have multiple levels of meaning. Symbols are the basis of all human understanding and serve as vehicles of conception for all human knowledge. Symbols facilitate understanding of the world in which we live, thus serving as the grounds upon which we make judgments. In this way, people use symbols not only to make sense of the world around them, but also to identify and cooperate in society through constitutive rhetoric.
Human cultures use symbols to express specific ideologies and social structures and to represent aspects of their specific culture. Thus, symbols carry meanings that depend upon one's cultural background; in other words, the meaning of a symbol is not inherent in the symbol itself but is culturally learned.
In considering the effect of a symbol on the psyche, in his seminal essay The Symbol without Meaning Joseph Campbell proposes the following definition:
A symbol is an energy evoking, and directing, agent.
Later, expanding on what he means by this definition Campbell says:
a symbol, like everything else, shows a double aspect. We must distinguish, therefore between the 'sense' and the 'meaning' of the symbol. It seems to me perfectly clear that all the great and little symbolical systems of the past functioned simultaneously on three levels: the corporeal of waking consciousness, the spiritual of dream, and the ineffable of the absolutely unknowable. The term 'meaning' can refer only to the first two but these, today, are in the charge of science – which is the province as we have said, not of symbols but of signs. The ineffable, the absolutely unknowable, can be only sensed. It is the province of art which is not 'expression' merely, or even primarily, but a quest for, and formulation of, experience evoking, energy-waking images: yielding what Sir Herbert Read has aptly termed a 'sensuous apprehension of being'.
Heinrich Zimmer gives a concise overview of the nature, and perennial relevance, of symbols.
Concepts and words are symbols, just as visions, rituals, and images are; so too are the manners and customs of daily life. Through all of these a transcendent reality is mirrored. There are so many metaphors reflecting and implying something which, though thus variously expressed, is ineffable, though thus rendered multiform, remains inscrutable. Symbols hold the mind to truth but are not themselves the truth, hence it is delusory to borrow them. Each civilisation, every age, must bring forth its own."
In the book Signs and Symbols, it is stated that
A symbol ... is a visual image or sign representing an idea -- a deeper indicator of a universal truth.
Semiotics is the study of signs, symbols, and signification as communicative behavior. Semiotics studies focus on the relationship of the signifier and the signified, also taking into account interpretation of visual cues, body language, sound, and other contextual clues. Semiotics is linked with both linguistics and psychology. Semioticians thus not only study what a symbol implies, but also how it got its meaning and how it functions to make meaning in society. Symbols allow the human brain continuously to create meaning using sensory input and decode symbols through both denotation and connotation.
An alternative definition of symbol, distinguishing it from the term sign was proposed by Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung. In his studies on what is now called Jungian archetypes, a sign stands for something known, as a word stands for its referent. He contrasted a sign with a symbol: something that is unknown and that cannot be made clear or precise. An example of a symbol in this sense is Christ as a symbol of the archetype called self.
Kenneth Burke described Homo sapiens as a "symbol-using, symbol making, and symbol misusing animal" to suggest that a person creates symbols as well as misuses them. One example he uses to indicate what he means by the misuse of symbol is the story of a man who, when told that a particular food item was whale blubber, could barely keep from throwing it up. Later, his friend discovered it was actually just a dumpling. But the man's reaction was a direct consequence of the symbol of "blubber" representing something inedible in his mind. In addition, the symbol of "blubber" was created by the man through various kinds of learning.
Burke goes on to describe symbols as also being derived from Sigmund Freud's work on condensation and displacement, further stating that symbols are not just relevant to the theory of dreams but also to "normal symbol systems". He says they are related through "substitution", where one word, phrase, or symbol is substituted for another in order to change the meaning. In other words, if one person does not understand a certain word or phrase, another person may substitute a synonym or symbol in order to get the meaning across. However, upon learning the new way of interpreting a specific symbol, the person may change his or her already-formed ideas to incorporate the new information.
Jean Dalby Clift says that people not only add their own interpretations to symbols, they also create personal symbols that represent their own understanding of their lives: what she calls "core images" of the person. She argues that symbolic work with these personal symbols or core images can be as useful as working with dream symbols in psychoanalysis or counseling.
William Indick suggests that the symbols that are commonly found in myth, legend, and fantasy fulfil psychological functions and hence are why archetypes such as "the hero," "the princess" and "the witch" have remained popular for centuries.
Symbols can carry symbolic value in three primary forms: Ideological, comparative, and isomorphic. Ideological symbols such as religious and state symbols convey complex sets of beliefs and ideas that indicate "the right thing to do". Comparative symbols such as prestigious office addresses, fine art, and prominent awards indicate answers to questions of "better or worse" and "superior or inferior". Isomorphic symbols blend in with the surrounding cultural environment such that they enable individuals and organizations to conform to their surroundings and evade social and political scrutiny. Examples of symbols with isomorphic value include wearing professional dress during business meetings, shaking hands to greet others in the West, or bowing to greet others in the East. A single symbol can carry multiple distinct meanings such that it provides multiple types of symbolic value.
Paul Tillich argued that, while signs are invented and forgotten, symbols are born and die. There are, therefore, dead and living symbols. A living symbol can reveal to an individual hidden levels of meaning and transcendent or religious realities. For Tillich a symbol always "points beyond itself" to something that is unquantifiable and mysterious; symbols open up the "depth dimension of reality itself". Symbols are complex, and their meanings can evolve as the individual or culture evolves. When a symbol loses its meaning and power for an individual or culture, it becomes a dead symbol. When a symbol becomes identified with the deeper reality to which it refers, it becomes idolatrous as the "symbol is taken for reality." The symbol itself is substituted for the deeper meaning it intends to convey. The unique nature of a symbol is that it gives access to deeper layers of reality which are otherwise inaccessible.
Symbols are used in cartography to communicate geographical information (generally as point, line, or area features). As with other symbols, visual variables such as size, shape, orientation, texture, and pattern provide meaning to the symbol. According to semiotics, map symbols are "read" by map users when they make a connection between the graphic mark on the map (the sign), a general concept (the interpretant), and a particular feature of the real world (the referent). Map symbols can thus be categorized by how they suggest this connection:
A symbolic action is an action that has no, or little, practical effect but symbolizes, or signals, what the actor wants or believes. The action conveys meaning to the viewers. Symbolic action may overlap with symbolic speech, such as the use of flag burning to express hostility or saluting the flag to express patriotism. In response to intense public criticism, businesses, organizations, and governments may take symbolic actions rather than, or in addition to, directly addressing the identified problems.
In a late period the Greeks made [Pan] the incarnation of All (giving a false etymology to his name, which is really connected with the pastures), that is to say, the universe.
The at sign, @, is normally read aloud as "at" or "at symbol":; it is also commonly called the at symbol or commercial at. It is used as an accounting and invoice abbreviation meaning "at a rate of" (e.g. 7 widgets @ £2 per widget = £14), but it is now most commonly used in email addresses and social media platform "handles". The term "alphasand" is sometimes used to refer to "@", especially in East Asia.Although not included on the keyboard of the earliest commercially successful typewriters, it was on at least one 1889 model and the very successful Underwood models from the "Underwood No. 5" in 1900 onward. It started to be used in email addresses in the 1970s, and is now universally included on computer keyboards.
The absence of a single English word for the symbol has prompted some writers to use the French arobase or Spanish and Portuguese arroba, or to coin new words such as ampersat, asperand, and strudel, but none of these has achieved wide use.
In unicode, the at sign is encoded as U+0040 @ COMMERCIAL AT (HTML @), or @ in HTML5.Bar (unit)
The bar is a metric unit of pressure, but is not approved as part of the International System of Units (SI). It is defined as exactly equal to 100,000 Pa, which is slightly less than the current average atmospheric pressure on Earth at sea level.The bar and the millibar were introduced by the Norwegian meteorologist Vilhelm Bjerknes, who was a founder of the modern practice of weather forecasting.The International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) lists the bar as one of the "non-SI units [that authors] should have the freedom to use", but has declined to include it among the "Non-SI units accepted for use with the SI". The bar has been legally recognised in countries of the European Union since 2004. The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) deprecates its use except for "limited use in meteorology" and lists it as one of several units that "must not be introduced in fields where they are not presently used". The International Astronomical Union (IAU) also lists it under "Non-SI units and symbols whose continued use is deprecated".Units derived from the bar include the megabar (symbol: Mbar), kilobar (symbol: kbar), decibar (symbol: dbar), centibar (symbol: cbar), and millibar (symbol: mbar or mb). The notation bar(g), though deprecated by various bodies, represents gauge pressure, i.e., pressure in bars above ambient or atmospheric pressure.Copyright symbol
The copyright symbol, or copyright sign, © (a circled capital letter C for copyright), is the symbol used in copyright notices for works other than sound recordings. The use of the symbol is described by the Universal Copyright Convention. The symbol is widely recognized, but under the Berne Convention is no longer required to obtain a new copyright in most nations.
In the United States, the Berne Convention Implementation Act of 1988, effective March 1, 1989, removed the requirement for the copyright symbol from U.S. copyright law, but its presence or absence is legally significant on works published prior to that date, and it continues to have effect on remedies available to a copyright holder whose work is infringed.Currency symbol
A currency symbol is a graphic symbol used as a shorthand for a currency's name, especially in reference to amounts of money.
Although several former currency symbols were rendered obsolete by the adoption of the euro, having a new and unique currency symbol – implementation of which requires the adoption of new Unicode and type formats – has now become a status symbol for international currencies. The European Commission considers the global recognition of the euro sign € part of its success. In 2009, India launched a public competition to replace the ₨ ligature it shared with neighbouring countries. It finalised its new currency symbol, ₹ (₹) on 15 July 2010. It is a blend of the Latin letter 'R' with the Devanagari letter 'र' (ra).Diameter
In geometry, a diameter of a circle is any straight line segment that passes through the center of the circle and whose endpoints lie on the circle. It can also be defined as the longest chord of the circle. Both definitions are also valid for the diameter of a sphere.
In more modern usage, the length of a diameter is also called the diameter. In this sense one speaks of the diameter rather than a diameter (which refers to the line itself), because all diameters of a circle or sphere have the same length, this being twice the radius r.
For a convex shape in the plane, the diameter is defined to be the largest distance that can be formed between two opposite parallel lines tangent to its boundary, and the width is often defined to be the smallest such distance. Both quantities can be calculated efficiently using rotating calipers. For a curve of constant width such as the Reuleaux triangle, the width and diameter are the same because all such pairs of parallel tangent lines have the same distance.
For an ellipse, the standard terminology is different. A diameter of an ellipse is any chord passing through the center of the ellipse. For example, conjugate diameters have the property that a tangent line to the ellipse at the endpoint of one of them is parallel to the other one. The longest diameter is called the major axis.
The word "diameter" is derived from Greek διάμετρος (diametros), "diameter of a circle", from διά (dia), "across, through" and μέτρον (metron), "measure". It is often abbreviated DIA, dia, d, or ⌀.Equals sign
The equals sign or equality sign (=) is a mathematical symbol used to indicate equality. It was invented in 1557 by Robert Recorde. In an equation, the equals sign is placed between two (or more) expressions that have the same value. In Unicode and ASCII, it is U+003D = EQUALS SIGN (HTML =).LGBT symbols
The LGBT community has adopted certain symbols for self-identification to demonstrate unity, pride, shared values, and allegiance to one another. LGBT symbols communicate ideas, concepts, and identity both within their communities and to mainstream culture. The two most-recognized international LGBT symbols are the pink triangle and the rainbow flag. The pink triangle, employed by the Nazis in World War II as a badge of shame, was re-appropriated but retained negative connotations. The rainbow flag, previously used as a symbol of unity among all people, was adopted to be a more organic and natural replacement without any negativity attached to it.List of mathematical symbols
This is a list of mathematical symbols used in all branches of mathematics to express a formula or to represent a constant.
A mathematical concept is independent of the symbol chosen to represent it. For many of the symbols below, the symbol is usually synonymous with the corresponding concept (ultimately an arbitrary choice made as a result of the cumulative history of mathematics), but in some situations, a different convention may be used. For example, depending on context, the triple bar "≡" may represent congruence or a definition. However, in mathematical logic, numerical equality is sometimes represented by "≡" instead of "=", with the latter representing equality of well-formed formulas. In short, convention dictates the meaning.
Each symbol is shown both in HTML, whose display depends on the browser's access to an appropriate font installed on the particular device, and typeset as an image using TeX.Male
A male (♂) organism is the physiological sex that produces sperm. Each spermatozoon can fuse with a larger female gamete, or ovum, in the process of fertilization. A male cannot reproduce sexually without access to at least one ovum from a female, but some organisms can reproduce both sexually and asexually. Most male mammals, including male humans, have a Y chromosome, which codes for the production of larger amounts of testosterone to develop male reproductive organs.
Not all species share a common sex-determination system. In most animals, including humans, sex is determined genetically, but in some species it can be determined due to social, environmental, or other factors. For example, Cymothoa exigua changes sex depending on the number of females present in the vicinity.Metric system
The metric system is an internationally recognised decimalised system of measurement. It is in widespread use, and where it is adopted, it is the only or most common system of weights and measures (see metrication). It is now known as the International System of Units (SI). It is used to measure everyday things such as the mass of a sack of flour, the height of a person, the speed of a car, and the volume of fuel in its tank. It is also used in science, industry and trade.
In its modern form, it consists of a set of base units including metre for length, kilogram for mass, second for time and ampere for electrical current, and a few others, which together with their derived units, can measure any physical quantity. Metric system may also refer to other systems of related base and derived units defined before the middle of the 20th century, some of which are still in limited use today.
The metric system was designed to have properties that make it easy to use and widely applicable, including units based on the natural world, decimal ratios, prefixes for multiples and sub-multiples, and a structure of base and derived units. It is also a coherent system, which means that its units do not introduce conversion factors not already present in equations relating quantities. It has a property called rationalisation that eliminates certain constants of proportionality in equations of physics.
The units of the metric system, originally taken from observable features of nature, are now defined by phenomena such as the microwave frequency of a caesium atomic clock which accurately measures seconds. One unit, the kilogram, remains defined in terms of a man-made artefact, but scientists recently voted to change the definition to one based on Planck's constant via a Kibble balance. The new definition is expected to be formally propagated on 20 May 2019.
While there are numerous named derived units of the metric system, such as watt and lumen, other common quantities such as velocity and acceleration do not have their own unit, but are defined in terms of existing base and derived units such as metres per second for velocity.
Though other currently or formerly widespread systems of weights and measures continue to exist, such as the British imperial system and the US customary system of weights and measures, in those systems most or all of the units are now defined in terms of the metric system, such as the US foot which is now a defined decimal fraction of a metre.
The metric system is also extensible, and new base and derived units are defined as needed in fields such as radiology and chemistry. The most recent derived unit, the katal, for catalytic activity, was added in 1999. Recent changes are directed toward defining base units in terms of invariant constants of physics to provide more precise realisations of units for advances in science and industry.Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed (Greek: Σύμβολον τῆς Νικαίας or, τῆς πίστεως, Latin: Symbolum Nicaenum) is a statement of belief widely used in Christian liturgy. It is called Nicene because it was originally adopted in the city of Nicaea (present day İznik, Turkey) by the First Council of Nicaea in 325. In 381, it was amended at the First Council of Constantinople, and the amended form is referred to as the Nicene or the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed.
The Oriental Orthodox and Assyrian churches use this profession of faith with the verbs in the original plural ("we believe"), but the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic churches convert those verbs to the singular ("I believe"). The Anglican and many Protestant denominations generally use the singular form, sometimes the plural.
The earlier Apostles' Creed is also used in the Latin West, but not in the Eastern liturgies. On Sundays and solemnities, one of these two creeds is recited in the Roman Rite Mass after the homily. The Nicene Creed is also part of the profession of faith required of those undertaking important functions within the Catholic Church.In the Byzantine Rite, the Nicene Creed is sung or recited at the Divine Liturgy, immediately preceding the Anaphora (Eucharistic Prayer), and is also recited daily at compline.Number sign
The symbol # is most commonly known as the number sign, hash, or pound sign. The symbol has historically been used for a wide range of purposes, including the designation of an ordinal number and as a ligatured abbreviation for pounds avoirdupois (having been derived from the now-rare ℔).Since 2007, widespread usage of the symbol to introduce metadata tags on social media platforms has led to such tags being known as "hashtags" and from that, the symbol itself is sometimes incorrectly called a "hashtag".The symbol is defined in Unicode and ASCII as U+0023 # NUMBER SIGN (HTML #) and # in HTML5. It is graphically similar to several other symbols, including the sharp (♯) from musical notation and the equal-and-parallel symbol (⋕) from mathematics, but is distinguished by its combination of level horizontal strokes and right-tilting vertical strokes.Om
Om (listen , IAST: Oṃ, Devanagari: ॐ, Tamil: ௐ, Telugu: ఓం, Kannada: ಓಂ), also written as Aum, is the most sacred syllable, symbol or mantra in Hinduism. The syllable is often chanted either independently or before a mantra; it signifies the essence of the ultimate reality, consciousness or Atman. The Om sound is the primordial sound and is called the Shabda-Brahman (Brahman as sound).Om is part of the iconography found in ancient and medieval era manuscripts, temples, monasteries and spiritual retreats in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. The symbol has a spiritual meaning in all Indian dharmas, but the meaning and connotations of Om vary between the diverse schools within and across the various traditions.
In Hinduism, Om is one of the most important spiritual sounds. It refers to Atman (soul, self within) and Brahman (ultimate reality, entirety of the universe, truth, divine, supreme spirit, cosmic principles, knowledge). The syllable is often found at the beginning and the end of chapters in the Vedas, the Upanishads, and other Hindu texts. It is a sacred spiritual incantation made before and during the recitation of spiritual texts, during puja and private prayers, in ceremonies of rites of passages (sanskara) such as weddings, and sometimes during meditative and spiritual activities such as Yoga. It is also used in other Dharmic religions, such as Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.
The syllable Om is also referred to as onkara (ओङ्कार, oṅkāra), omkara (ओंकार, oṃkāra) and pranava (प्रणव, praṇava).Peace symbols
A number of peace symbols have been used many ways in various cultures and contexts. The dove and olive branch was used symbolically by early Christians and then eventually became a secular peace symbol, popularized by Pablo Picasso after World War II.
In the 1950s the "peace sign", as it is known today, was designed by Gerald Holtom as the logo for the British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), a group at the forefront of the peace movement in the UK, and adopted by anti-war and counterculture activists in the US and elsewhere. The V hand signal and the peace flag also became international peace symbols.
The peace symbol is encoded by Unicode as part of the Miscellaneous Symbols block, at U+262E ☮ PEACE SYMBOL.Registered trademark symbol
The registered trademark symbol (®) is a symbol that provides notice that the preceding word or symbol is a trademark or service mark that has been registered with a national trademark office. A trademark is a symbol, word, or words legally registered or established by use as representing a company or product. In some countries it is against the law to use the registered trademark symbol for a mark that is not officially registered in any country.Trademarks not officially registered can instead be marked with the trademark symbol ™, while unregistered service marks are marked with the service mark symbol ℠. The proper manner to display these symbols is immediately following the mark, and is commonly in superscript style but is not legally required.
The registered trademark symbol was originally introduced in the Trademark Act of 1946.Sex symbol
A sex symbol is a famous person or fictional character widely regarded to be very sexually attractive.Swastika
The swastika or sauwastika (as a character, 卐 or 卍, respectively) is a geometrical figure and an ancient religious icon in the cultures of Eurasia. It is used as a symbol of divinity and spirituality in Indian religions. In the Western world, it was a symbol of auspiciousness and good luck until the 1930s, when it became a feature of Nazi symbolism as an emblem of Aryan identity and, as a result, was stigmatized by its association with racism and antisemitism.The name swastika comes from Sanskrit (Devanagari: स्वस्तिक) meaning 'conducive to well being' or 'auspicious'. In Hinduism, the symbol with arms pointing clockwise (卐) is called swastika, symbolizing surya ('sun'), prosperity and good luck, while the counterclockwise symbol (卍) is called sauvastika, symbolizing night or tantric aspects of Kali. In Jainism, a swastika is the symbol for Suparshvanatha—the 7th of 24 Tirthankaras (spiritual teachers and saviours), while in Buddhism it symbolizes the auspicious footprints of the Buddha. In several major Indo-European religions, the swastika symbolizes lightning bolts, representing the thunder god and the king of the gods, such as Indra in the religion of the Indus Valley Civilisation, Zeus in the ancient Greek religion, Jupiter in the ancient Roman religion, and Thor in the ancient Germanic religion.The swastika is an icon which is widely found in both human history and the modern world. In various forms, it is otherwise known (in various European languages) as the fylfot, gammadion, tetraskelion, or cross cramponnée (a term in Anglo-Norman heraldry); German: Hakenkreuz; French: croix gammée. In China it is named wàn 卐 / 卍 / 萬, meaning 'all things', pronounced manji in Japanese. A swastika generally takes the form of a cross, the arms of which are of equal length and perpendicular to the adjacent arms, each bent midway at a right angle. The symbol is found in the archeological remains of the Indus Valley Civilization and Mesopotamia, as well as in early Byzantine and Christian artwork.The swastika was adopted by several organizations in pre–World War I Europe, and later by the Nazi Party and Nazi Germany prior to World War II. It was used by the Nazi Party to symbolize German nationalistic pride. To Jews and the enemies of Nazi Germany, it became a symbol of antisemitism and terror. In many Western countries, the swastika is viewed as a symbol of racial supremacism and intimidation because of its association with Nazism. Reverence for the swastika symbol in Asian cultures, in contrast to the West's stigma of the symbol, has led to misinterpretations and misunderstandings.Ticker symbol
A ticker symbol or stock symbol is an abbreviation used to uniquely identify publicly traded shares of a particular stock on a particular stock market. A stock symbol may consist of letters, numbers or a combination of both. "Ticker symbol" refers to the symbols that were printed on the ticker tape of a ticker tape machine.Tilde
The tilde ( or ; ˜ or ~) is a grapheme with several uses. The name of the character came into English from Spanish and from Portuguese, which in turn came from the Latin titulus, meaning "title" or "superscription".The reason for the name was that it was originally written over a letter as a scribal abbreviation, as a "mark of suspension", shown as a straight line when used with capitals. Thus the commonly used words Anno Domini were frequently abbreviated to Ao Dñi, an elevated terminal with a suspension mark placed over the "n". Such a mark could denote the omission of one letter or several letters. This saved on the expense of the scribe's labour and the cost of vellum and ink. Medieval European charters written in Latin are largely made up of such abbreviated words with suspension marks and other abbreviations; only uncommon words were given in full. The tilde has since been applied to a number of other uses as a diacritic mark or a character in its own right. These are encoded in Unicode at U+0303 ◌̃ COMBINING TILDE and U+007E ~ TILDE (as a spacing character), and there are additional similar characters for different roles. In lexicography, the latter kind of tilde and the swung dash (⁓) are used in dictionaries to indicate the omission of the entry word.