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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symbololatry (n.)
"worship of symbols," 1828, from combining form of symbol + -latry "worship of."
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symbology (n.)
1840, contracted from symbolology, from Greek symbolon "token" (see symbol) + -ology.
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symbolic (adj.)
1650s, from symbol + -ic, or from Greek symbolikos. Related: Symbolical (c. 1600); symbolically.
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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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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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*gwele- 

*gwelə-, also *gwel-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to throw, reach," with extended sense "to pierce."

It forms all or part of: anabolic; arbalest; astrobleme; ball (n.2) "dancing party;" ballad; ballet; ballista; ballistic; ballistics; belemnite; catabolism; devil; diabolical; discobolus; emblem; embolism; hyperbola; hyperbole; kill (v.); metabolism; palaver; parable; parabola; parley; parliament; parlor; parol; parole; problem; quell; quail (v.) "lose heart, shrink, cower;" symbol.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit apa-gurya "swinging," balbaliti "whirls, twirls;" Greek ballein "to throw, to throw so as to hit," also in a looser sense, "to put, place, lay," bole "a throw, beam, ray," belemnon "dart, javelin," belone "needle," ballizein "to dance;" Armenian kelem "I torture;" Old Church Slavonic zali "pain;" Lithuanian galas "end," gėla "agony," gelti "to sting."

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Rh. 

chemical symbol of rhodium (q.v.). 

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pictograph (n.)

"pictorial symbol, picture or symbol representing an idea," 1851, from picto-, combining form of Latin pictus "painted," past participle of pingere "to paint" (see paint (v.)) + -graph "something written." First used in reference to American Indian writing. Related: Pictography; pictographic.

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