Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference between Sign and Symbol

Both signs and symbols are graphical presentations but people often use them interchangeably. The main difference between the two is that a sign is a language on its own and it is used to communicate something to people while a symbol is subjective in nature and often requires interpretation.

Main Characteristics of a Sign

A sign is language in its own right and its meaning universally shared by people belonging to a specific geographical location. For instance, a sign is mainly used to give warning to people, inform them or to regulate their conduct in certain instances. A sign is mandatory to follow since it is communicating vital information with you. For example, when driving a red traffic light tells you to stop.

Difference between Sign and Symbol

Handicapped Accessible sign

A sign is descriptive in nature and it stands for something. In most cases, when a sign is erected somewhere, it is directly communicating with the targeted audiences and they must follow what it means. Many signs often have a universal meaning that is shared by people from various backgrounds.

Main Characteristics of a Symbol

A symbol is a sign that stands for something and it is subjective in nature since it can be interpreted differently by people from different backgrounds. A cross is an example of symbol that has been universally accepted as representing Christianity.

Difference between Sign and Symbol-1

Radiation warning symbol

A symbol is viewed as a sign that represents something instead of describing it. The main feature of a symbol in this context is that it is subject to different interpretations. People from different backgrounds can interpret the same symbol in different ways.

Summary of the Differences Between a Sign and Symbol

Meaning

  • A sign is a form of language in its own right and it is specifically meant to communicate certain information. Signs are usually informative, regulatory, warning or prohibitory. A sign is ought to be followed as it is.
  • In contrast, it can be observed that a symbol is a form of a sign that has deep meaning. It can be interpreted in different ways since its meaning is not universally shared by different people.

Interpretation

  • In many instances, a sign has similar interpretation in different parts of the globe. It is descriptive and its meaning is shared by many people.
  • On the other hand, a symbol is a sign that is subject to different interpretations. It represents different things that can be interpreted differently by people from backgrounds.

Table Showing the Differences Between a Sign and Symbol

Sign Symbol
A sign is a form of language that is descriptive in nature A symbol is a sign that represents something and its meaning is subjective
A sign stands for something and it is mandatory to be followed A symbol represents something and it has different interpretations

Conclusion

Over and above, it can be observed that both a sign and a symbol are not synonymous. The main difference between the two is that a sign is a form of language that directly communicates with the targeted audiences. In contrast, a symbol is viewed as a sign that represents something but the meaning differs from place to place. A sign is descriptive in nature while a symbol is subjective since it can be interpreted in different ways depending on aspects like place. A sign often stands for something and its meaning cannot be easily tampered with. The meaning of a symbol is not subjective.


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References :


[0]“The difference between a sign & a symbol.” https://penandthepad.com/difference-between-sign-symbol-8361620.html

[1]"Image Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Handicapped_Accessible_sign.svg"

[2]"Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Radiation_warning_symbol.svg"

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