Etymology
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symbol (n.)

early 15c., "creed, summary, religious belief," from Late Latin symbolum "creed, token, mark," from Greek symbolon "token, watchword, sign by which one infers; ticket, a permit, licence" (the word was applied c. 250 by Cyprian of Carthage to the Apostles' Creed, on the notion of the "mark" that distinguishes Christians from pagans), literally "that which is thrown or cast together," from assimilated form of syn- "together" (see syn-) + bole "a throwing, a casting, the stroke of a missile, bolt, beam," from bol-, nominative stem of ballein "to throw" (from PIE root *gwele- "to throw, reach").

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" first recorded 1590 (in "Faerie Queene"). As a written character, 1610s.

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symbolic (adj.)
1650s, from symbol + -ic, or from Greek symbolikos. Related: Symbolical (c. 1600); symbolically.
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symbolise (v.)
chiefly British English spelling of symbolize. For suffix, see -ize. Related: Symbolised; symbolising; symbolisation.
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symbolism (n.)
1650s, "practice of representing things with symbols," from symbol + -ism. Applied to the arts by 1866; attested from 1892 as a movement in French literature, from French symbolisme (see symbolist).
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symbolist (n.)
1580s, from symbol + -ist. From 1888 in reference to a literary movement that aimed at representing ideas and emotions by indirect suggestion rather than direct expression, from French symboliste, coined 1885 by poet Paul Verlaine (1844-1896). Rejecting realism and naturalism, they attached symbolic meaning to certain objects, words, etc.
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symbolization (n.)
c. 1600, from French symbolisation, from symboliser (see symbolize).
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symbolize (v.)
c. 1600, "represent by a symbol," also "be a symbol of," from French symboliser, from symbole (see symbol). Related: Symbolized; symbolizes; symbolizing.
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symbology (n.)
1840, contracted from symbolology, from Greek symbolon "token" (see symbol) + -ology.
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symbololatry (n.)
"worship of symbols," 1828, from combining form of symbol + -latry "worship of."
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symmetric (adj.)
1796, from symmetry + -ic. Earlier in the same sense was symmetral (1650s).
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