Difference Wiki

Symbol vs. Metaphor: What's the Difference?

Edited by Sumera Saeed || By Sawaira Riaz || Published on December 2, 2023
A symbol is a tangible object or sign representing an idea, quality, or concept, whereas a metaphor is a figure of speech comparing two unlike things directly.

Key Differences

A symbol is a physical manifestation or representation of an idea, quality, or entity, often used to convey deeper meanings. A metaphor, in contrast, is a linguistic tool that describes something as being the same as another thing for rhetorical effect.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 02, 2023
Symbols are used in various forms of communication, from literature to everyday life, to represent concepts without directly stating them. Metaphors directly equate one thing with another to emphasize similarities or convey meanings in a more vivid or imaginative way.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 02, 2023
Symbols can be universal or culturally specific, carrying meanings recognized broadly or within a particular group. Metaphors are creative language expressions, often unique to the author or speaker, creating new connections between different concepts.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 02, 2023
The power of a symbol lies in its ability to evoke emotions or ideas through a single image, sign, or object. Metaphors, however, rely on the power of language and imagination to draw parallels between disparate entities or ideas.
Janet White
Dec 02, 2023
In symbolism, the relationship between the symbol and what it represents is often established and recognized over time. In metaphor, the comparison is crafted by the speaker or writer, often in an original and unexpected way.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 02, 2023
ADVERTISEMENT

Comparison Chart

Nature

Physical object or sign representing something else
Figure of speech comparing two unlike things
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 02, 2023

Usage

Conveys deeper meanings or ideas indirectly
Directly equates one thing with another for rhetorical effect
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 02, 2023

Recognition

Can be universal or culturally specific
Often unique to the author or speaker
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 02, 2023

Reliance

Evokes emotions or ideas through imagery
Draws parallels using language and imagination
Harlon Moss
Dec 02, 2023

Relationship

Established and recognized over time
Crafted uniquely in each instance
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 02, 2023
ADVERTISEMENT

Symbol and Metaphor Definitions

Symbol

A mark or sign used to represent an idea, object, or relationship.
The dove is a symbol of peace.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 19, 2023

Metaphor

A figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.
All the world's a stage.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 19, 2023

Symbol

Something that stands for or suggests something else by reason of relationship, association, or convention.
A heart symbolizes love.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 19, 2023

Metaphor

An imaginative way of describing something by referring to something else which is the same in a particular way.
Her voice was a melody.
Sumera Saeed
Nov 19, 2023

Symbol

A visible sign of something invisible.
The scales are a symbol of justice.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 19, 2023

Metaphor

A rhetorical figure used to make implicit comparisons.
Time is a thief.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 19, 2023

Symbol

A character used in writing as a conventional representation of an object, function, or process.
The ampersand (&) is a symbol for 'and'.
Harlon Moss
Nov 19, 2023

Metaphor

A thing regarded as representative or symbolic of something else.
His tower of strength was just a metaphor for his resilience.
Harlon Moss
Nov 19, 2023

Symbol

An emblem representing a group, idea, or quality.
The Olympic rings are a symbol of global unity.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 19, 2023

Metaphor

An expression that describes a person or object by referring to something that is considered to have similar characteristics.
The classroom was a zoo.
Janet White
Nov 19, 2023

Symbol

Something that represents something else by association, resemblance, or convention, especially a material object used to represent something invisible
The lamb is a symbol of innocence.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 19, 2023

Metaphor

A figure of speech in which a word or phrase that ordinarily designates one thing is used to designate another, thus making an implicit comparison, as in "a sea of troubles" or "All the world's a stage" (Shakespeare).
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 19, 2023

Symbol

An instance that typifies a broader pattern or situation
His striking out to end the rally was a symbol of everything that had gone wrong with the team over the past month.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 19, 2023

Metaphor

One thing conceived as representing another; a symbol
"Hollywood has always been an irresistible, prefabricated metaphor for the crass, the materialistic, the shallow, and the craven" (Neal Gabler).
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 19, 2023

Metaphor

The use of a word or phrase to refer to something other than its literal meaning, invoking an implicit similarity between the thing described and what is denoted by the word or phrase.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 19, 2023

Metaphor

A word or phrase used in such implied comparison.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 19, 2023

Metaphor

The use of an everyday object or concept to represent an underlying facet of the computer and thus aid users in performing tasks.
Desktop metaphor; wastebasket metaphor
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 19, 2023

Metaphor

(intransitive) To use a metaphor.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 19, 2023

Metaphor

(transitive) To describe by means of a metaphor.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 19, 2023

Metaphor

The transference of the relation between one set of objects to another set for the purpose of brief explanation; a compressed simile; e. g., the ship plows the sea.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 19, 2023

Metaphor

A figure of speech in which an expression is used to refer to something that it does not literally denote in order to suggest a similarity
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 19, 2023

FAQs

How is a metaphor different from a simile?

A metaphor directly compares two things, while a simile uses "like" or "as" for comparison.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 02, 2023

What is a symbol?

A symbol is a sign or object representing an idea, concept, or other entity.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 02, 2023

What is a metaphor?

A metaphor is a figure of speech that describes an object or action in a way that isn’t literally true, but helps explain an idea or make a comparison.
Sumera Saeed
Dec 02, 2023

Can a symbol be a metaphor?

Sometimes a symbol can also function as a metaphor, but not all symbols are metaphors.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 02, 2023

Do metaphors have to be based on truth?

Metaphors are not necessarily true but are used to create vivid or imaginative comparisons.
Harlon Moss
Dec 02, 2023

Can symbols be words?

Yes, symbols can also be words that represent something beyond their literal meaning.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 02, 2023

Are symbols culturally dependent?

Some symbols have universal meanings, while others may vary in different cultures.
Harlon Moss
Dec 02, 2023

Is learning metaphors important in language?

Yes, understanding metaphors is important for grasping the nuances and creativity in language.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 02, 2023

Are metaphors only used in literature?

Metaphors are widely used in literature, everyday language, and in various forms of art and communication.
Harlon Moss
Dec 02, 2023

How do symbols convey messages?

Symbols convey messages through their established and recognized meanings.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 02, 2023

Why do we use symbols?

We use symbols to communicate complex ideas, beliefs, and concepts in a simple and universal manner.
Janet White
Dec 02, 2023

What makes a good metaphor?

A good metaphor is original, vivid, and makes a clear and imaginative comparison.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 02, 2023

Can the same symbol have different meanings?

Yes, depending on the context and culture, a symbol can have multiple meanings.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 02, 2023

Are symbols innate or learned?

Most symbols are learned and culturally ingrained.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 02, 2023

What are some common symbols in literature?

Common symbols include the heart (love), the raven (death), and light (knowledge).
Harlon Moss
Dec 02, 2023

Can a metaphor become a cliché?

Yes, overused metaphors can become clichés and lose their original impact.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 02, 2023

Do symbols evolve over time?

Yes, the meanings of symbols can evolve and change over time.
Harlon Moss
Dec 02, 2023

Can metaphors be visual?

Yes, metaphors can also be visual, not just verbal or written.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 02, 2023

How do metaphors enrich language?

Metaphors enrich language by adding depth, creativity, and vivid imagery to expressions.
Harlon Moss
Dec 02, 2023

Are metaphors universal?

While some metaphors are widely understood, others may be culture-specific or context-dependent.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 02, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.
Edited by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons