25 Synonyms for “Sign” and “Symbol”

By Mark Nichol

Various words referring to pictorial representations of objects or ideas often have precise connotations. Here are many words conveying subtle shades of meaning about signs and symbols.

1. Attribute: an object, especially in representational art, signifying a person or place, or authority (also, a characteristic or quality or a word describing a quality)
2. Badge: a sign symbolizing achievement, authority, or membership
3. Cachet: a seal used to denote official approval, or an indication of prestigious approval (plus additional meanings, including “prestige”)
4. Coat of arms: a heraldic symbol or combination of symbols, or one or more symbols serving a similar function (also, a garment on which such symbols are employed)
5. Cognizance: a distinguishing sign (plus additional meanings)
6. Colophon: a printer’s or publisher’s symbol (also, an inscription providing information about the production of a publication)
7. Crest: see “coat of arms” (plus additional meanings)
8. Cryptograph (and cryptogram): a sign with hidden meaning or significance (also, a coded message)
9. Device: a heraldic symbol (plus additional meanings)
10. Emblem: a symbol associated with a particular thing or concept
11. Ensign: a sign of authority, or a sign or a flag (also, a military rank or someone holding that rank)
12. Hallmark: a mark signifying approval or authenticity (also, a distinguishing feature or trait)
13. Homologation: official approval or confirmation
14. Icon: a symbolic image
15. Impresa: a heraldic symbol
16. Imprimatur: approval, license, or sanction, or a mark thereof
17. Insignia: a sign of authority, honor, or rank
18. Logo (also logograph and logogram): a statement or symbol of identification, or a motto
19. Monogram: an identifying sign often consisting of conjoined initials
20. Pictograph: a symbol in a pictorial system of communication
21. Rune: a particular type of alphabetical character later associated with magic (plus additional meanings)
22. Stamp: a distinctive character, indication, or mark, or a lasting impression (also, the act of stamping or the device used for stamping, as well as a piece of paper fastened to another object as proof of payment)
23. Token: an expression, sign, or symbol (also, among other meanings, a characteristic, or a keepsake)
24. Totem: an object or symbol representing kinship
25. Trademark: a word or other symbol applying to a product or service (also, a distinguishing feature)

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1 Response to “25 Synonyms for “Sign” and “Symbol””

  • Jean Kearsley

    I would include both signal (“a sign of a particular situation”) and its literary cousin sigil as well. Both are certainly at least as “pictorial” as, say, homologation

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