Perhaps most of us throw around the word “symbolism” without understanding the various nuances of the subject.
I created ldsSymbols.com with reference to the word “symbols’ because that is what most people understand. Alonzo Gaskill’s book “The Lost Language of Symbolism” defines symbols, images, types, metaphors, similes, parables, motifs and archetypes. He also mentions other categories such as analogies, comparisons, emblems, figures, hallmarks, insignias, models, seals, signs and tokens.
Here is a list of definitions from the book along with the page number for reference:
- Symbol: Something that represents another thing (p. 11).
- Image: A word or action that names a concrete thing (p. 11).
- Type: A symbol that looks forward to an antitype for future fulfillment (p. 11).
- Metaphor: An implied comparison (p. 13).
- Similes: Compare one thing to another by using the formula like or as (p. 13).
- Parable: Brief stories that employ familiar situations, events, characteristics, or elements in order to teach important spiritual truths (p. 14).
- Motif: A recurring theme or a “structurally unified verbal whole” (p. 14).
- Archetype: An image or pattern that recurs…the universal elements of human experience (p. 15).
The next set of definitions are from various sources online:
- Analogy: A comparison between two things, typically on the basis of their structure and for the purpose of explanation or clarification. Google Definition
- Comparison: an examination of two or more items to establish similarities and dissimilarities. Merriam Webster
- Emblem: A heraldic device or symbolic object as a distinctive badge of a nation, organization, or family. Google Definition
- Figure: A person, animal, or object that symbolizes something. A pictorial or sculptural representation, especially of the human body. The Free Dictionary
- Hallmark: Any mark or symbol of genuineness or high quality. Your Dictionary
- Insignia: A symbol or token of personal power, status or office, or of an official body of government or jurisdiction. Wikipedia
- Model: A three-dimensional representation of a person or thing or of a proposed structure, typically on a smaller scale than the original. Google Definition
- Seal: An embossed emblem, figure, symbol, word, letter, etc., used as attestation or evidence of authenticity. Dictionary.com
- Sign: A token; something by which another thing is shown or represented; any visible thing, any motion, appearance or event which indicates the existence or approach of something else. Webster’s 1828 Dictionary
- Token: A sign; something intended to represent or indicate another thing or an event. Webster’s 1828 Dictionary