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Difference between Sign and Symbol

Difference between Sign and Symbol

Sign Vs. Symbol

Difference between Sign and Symbol? What do you think about when you see this ($)? Do you associate with the image of a white dove?

What makes you think we’re asking you questions? As you think about these questions,

we inform you that symbols and signs (as you may have noticed) are an important part of our way of communicating with others.

These allow us to convey even very abstract ideas or feelings that we do not always know how to express, also some become part of certain cultures or all.

Difference between Sign and Symbol

Symbols and signs can be found everywhere: on the street, in the shops, in vehicles, and even in clothes.

If you do not know the difference between sign and symbol, do not worry; because then we will explain what it is.

Note: these concepts have several definitions depending on the context; we will address them in the most general way possible.


Signs are graphic representations that involve limited or restricted meaning. They are the fruit of social conventions and can be a letter, word, number.

They are informative, advise and offer meanings of things. For example, when you are doing multiplication and you use one (x).

Likewise, if you are writing a story and end it in three ellipses (…) you are using signs.

When you read “Hello!”, Even if you are not listening to anyone saying that word,

you know that it is a greeting with enthusiasm; and all thanks to those two beautiful exclamation marks.

Do you see? The signs allow us to transmit information at the moment of communication, which otherwise would be very difficult and perhaps impossible to convey.


Symbols are representations of things; you could say that to a certain extent they are metaphors.

Its meaning is not limited or concrete as in the case of signs but is somewhat more subjective.

They can be a figure or an image, which either by analogy or by convention are used to refer to reality.

For example, a cross is the symbol of Christianity. There are even symbols for chemical elements.


In the world, there are symbols that are recognized by the vast majority of cultures and have become part of our reality.

However, being abstract and subjective, they require interpretation and it is possible that some groups interpret a symbol in one way and others in another.

For example, the swastika; for many, it is the symbol of the Nazis, but in countries like India it has positive meanings like “happily”, “health”, “successfully”.

Many things can be symbols, even colors; for example, the yellow color symbolizes joy and intelligence. Similarly, a bitten apple has become the symbol of Apple.

Key differences between Signs and Symbols

  • Signs contain more limited meanings than symbols.
  • Signs are more descriptive than symbols.
  • Symbols are mental representations of reality that use certain elements to represent it, while signs are often a complement to convey information when we communicate.
  • Symbols are more subjective and abstract than signs.
  • Examples of signs: the signs of the zodiac, @, ¿?
  • Examples of symbols: white pigeons, red roses, red or pink hearts, rainbows.

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