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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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Definitions of symbolism from WordNet

symbolism (n.)
a system of symbols and symbolic representations;
symbolism (n.)
the practice of investing things with symbolic meaning;
Synonyms: symbolization / symbolisation
symbolism (n.)
an artistic movement in the late 19th century that tried to express abstract or mystical ideas through the symbolic use of images;
From wordnet.princeton.edu