Have you ever realized how many symbols you encounter every day? The purpose of any symbol is to convey meaning while saving space.
Some symbols that used to be commonplace have lost their original meaning, but other signs have taken on new meaning with a new generation.
But do we really know the true meanings of all of those symbols we use? Well, that’s what you will find out in today’s post.
From the swastika and crescent to the rod of Asclepius and the Maltese cross, here are 25 Common Symbols And Their Meanings.
Last Updated on
The original meaning of the barber’s pole dates back to the medieval times when barbers were more surgeons than hairdressers.
They performed many medical services ranging from setting bone fractures to pulling teeth.
One of their key duties was also bloodletting and this is actually what the barber’s pole symbolizes – the red stripes represent the blood and the white stripes stand for the bandages.
The mathematical meaning of the infinity dates back to 1655 when English mathematician John Wallis first used it in his work, “De Sectionibus Conicis.”
Wallis did not explain his choice of this symbol, but it’s been thought to be a variant form of a Roman numeral for 1,000 (originally CIƆ, also CƆ), which was sometimes used to mean “many.”
In the US, the OK sign is used to indicate that something or someone is alright.
However, in some European countries, it is an offensive gesture, meaning that the person it is directed at is a ‘zero.’
In the Mediterranean and South American nations, the sign actually symbolizes the anus.
Combining a circle, a vertical line and downward sloping lines, the peace symbol was designed by dedicated peacemaker Gerald Herbert Holtom.
He created it on February 21, 1958, as the logo for the Direct Action Committee against Nuclear War.
The symbol was quickly adopted by the Hippie community in the 1960’s, who made it popular all over the world.
Adopted in 1999, the puzzle ribbon is the universal sign of autism awareness. It reflects the complexity of the autism spectrum.
The different colors and shapes represent the diversity of the people and families living with the condition.
The brightness of the ribbon signals hopes that people with autism will lead full lives, able to interact with the world on their own terms.
Photos: 25. Jesse Nandra via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 24. wikimedia commons (public domain), 23. publicdomainpictures.net (public domain), 22-20. wikimedia commons (public domain), 19. pixabay (public domain), 18. F l a n k e r, Pink Venus symbol, CC BY 3.0, 17. wikimedia commons (public domain), 16. WarX, edited by Manuel Strehl, Flag of Edward England, CC BY-SA 3.0, 15-14. wikimedia commons (public domain), 13. pixabay (public domain), 12. Jorge Láscar from Australia, A Hindu Swastika at Goa Lawah Temple Bali Indonesia, CC BY 2.0, 11-10. pixabay (public domain), 9. wikimedia commons (public domain), 8. vincentq from Melbourne, Australia, Macbook Pro Power Button – Macro (5477920228), CC BY-SA 2.0, 7. MesserWoland, Pink ribbon, CC BY-SA 3.0, 6. wikimedia commons (public domain), 5. 21jcw, Running Man Exit Sign Canada, CC BY-SA 4.0, 4-3. wikimedia commons (public domain), 2. pixabay (public domain), 1. wikimedia commons (public domain)