Please review our updated Terms of Use and Privacy & Cookies Policy before continuing to use our website.

52 Symbols and Meanings for Graphic Design

Symbolism is a powerful way to add nuanced meaning to your content. In the world of graphic design, symbols help represent your brand, connect with your audience and, ultimately, tell your story.

We have thousands of symbols available for you to use when crafting compelling designs in PicMonkey’s editor. So, to help get you started, we’ve compiled a list of popular symbols and their unique meanings below. Happy exploring!


Common symbols and meanings

• Heart

The heart is an ubiquitous symbol for love. It champions compassion, vitality, and respect. However, despite well known connotations, it’s still the subject of various origin stories.

• Ribbon

Ribbons are a popular way to show support and raise awareness for health causes and other movements. Chances are you’ve noticed this in October with an influx of pink ribbons supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but there’s a wide variety of ribbons used to represent different illnesses and issues. 

• Star

More often than not, stars carry a positive connotation. Because of their place in the skies, they can represent divinity and heavenly bodies. They’re also a sign of good luck (pretty sure Disney’s Pinocchio taught us that one).

• Circle

Circles elicit feelings of wholesomeness and perfection. They’re also representative of time’s endless cyclicality. Round and round and round we go.

• Triangle

What’s interesting about triangles is how their meanings differ when flipped. An upward pointing triangle can symbolize power, while a downward pointing triangle is seen as unstable. Their connecting points also represent unity. This is particularly relevant in spirituality. 

• Diamond

The diamond symbolizes commitment, purity, and innocence. It’s a tangible representation of marriage, promising a devotion to faithfulness and longevity.

• Flowers

The flower is a multi-faceted symbol. It’s widely used to represent young life, but it’s also a symbol of beauty. Different types and colors of flowers mean different things. For example, roses are associated with love more than any other flower. A red rose might suggest love and desire, while a white rose suggests innocence and purity. 

• Four-Leaf Clover

By order of Irish tradition, four-leaf clovers represent luck and good fortune. Since the four-leaf clover is a rare variation of the three-leaf, those lucky enough to stumble across one should treat it as a good omen. 

• Moon

Commonly recognized as a feminine symbol, the moon has a lot of meaning behind its full and crescent shapes. The moon is often equated with sleep (surprise, surprise) and, more specifically, the middle ground between consciousness and unconsciousness. It serves as a symbol for the soul. 

• Skull & Crossbones

No trickery or multi-layered meaning here. A skull & crossbones is one of the most common symbols for death.


Astrology signs

Plenty of people live by their astrological signs and read daily horoscopes like they’re headliners in the morning newspaper. Regardless of your feelings toward them, there’s something to be said about zodiac signs’ inherent symbolism.   

• Water signs

Water signs like Cancer, Pisces, and Scorpio represent sensitivity, intuition, intimacy, and support. 

• Fire signs

Fire signs embody the nature of their element. They’re passionate but temperamental. They act intelligently, exhibit creativity, and lust for adventure. Fire signs include Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius.

• Earth signs

Conservation and realism inform the Earth signs of Capricorn, Taurus, and Virgo. Those with Earth signs are also loyal, committed, and practical.

• Air signs

Aquarius, Gemini, and Libra are all Air signs. They facilitate and appreciate intellectual conversation, are social butterflies, and value positive relationships with others.


Animals

• Rabbit

Rabbits symbolize fertility because of their hasty reproduction rate. They’re also known for good luck, hence the superstition and belief surrounding a rabbit’s foot.

• Cat

History’s most aloof animals get a bad rep for their association with witches and dark magic. Thanks Hollywood. However, cats are also symbolic of rebirth and resurrection (see: nine lives). They represent independence, liberty, and balance. 

• Bat

Speaking of being misunderstood...bats are another favorite witch pairing. And yes, they symbolize death but, like cats, they also symbolize rebirth. Bats live in the “womb” of Mother Earth, and are reborn at night when they leave their caves.

• Lion

Anyone who’s read even one of the Harry Potter books knows exactly what a lion represents: strength, courage, and justice. 

Whale

Whales are truly majestic underwater creatures. In some cultures, seeing a whale swimming is a sign of good luck, whereas a beached whale can be the exact opposite. Whales represent creativity. In particular, exhaling through their blowholes is symbolic of creative release and freedom.

• Rhino

Ironically, while you might assume that rhinos represent something bold and aggressive, they actually symbolize peace and gentleness. Power too, but power matched with steadiness and control.

• Dog

Man’s best friend is loyal, protective, and unconditionally loving. Dogs represent companionship and animal-human ties.

• Ram

The ram is a symbol of Aries, one of the Fire astrological signs. With characteristically strong and curved antlers, rams are symbols of determination, force, and leadership. 

• Cardinal

These bright red birds run the gamut of symbolism, sometimes used to represent passion and romance, other time ferocious leadership. Above all, cardinals stand for unbending respect.

• Bull

It should come as no surprise that bulls represent strength and power. Tack onto this confidence and unpredictability. Like rams, bulls represent an astrological sign: Taurus.


Colors

Colors are full of symbolism and can represent different things to different cultures. We’ve listed a few widespread interpretations below, but know that this list is in no way exhaustive. You’ll notice, too, that a lot of these colors feature contradictory meanings. It all comes down to how they’re used in a design. Color theory might feel complicated at first, but when employed during the design process, it can result in an incredibly effective final product.  

Blue: Calmness, stability, wisdom, sadness

Red: Love, passion, anger, warning

Orange: Creativity, happiness, freedom, success 

Yellow: Joy, happiness, awareness, fear

Green: Healing, nature, greed, jealousy

Purple: Power, royalty, wealth, ambition

Black: Death, grief, sadness, evil

White: Innocence, purity, perfection, faith

Gray: Balance, moodiness, formality, sophistication

Brown: Security, stability, honesty, wholesomeness


More symbols and meanings

• Egg

Eggs symbolize life. They encapsulate rebirth and rejuvenation, their shape a nod to life’s immeasurable cycle, impossible to say exactly where it starts and stops.

• Laurel

The laurel is symbolic of victory and eternal glory. This makes sense considering laurels were used to crown victors in the ancient Olympic Games. Spiritually, laurels symbolize prosperity and peace.

• Spinner/spiral

The mild spiralizing effect of any spinner symbol creates mystery and illusion. It also relates to consciousness (or lack thereof). One of Alfred Hitchcock’s most famous films, Vertigo, employs spinners and spirals to great effect.

• Clock

It should go without saying that a clock represents time. However, a more nuanced interpretation is that a clock embodies time as pressure. It’s a reminder that our time is limited, no matter how endless it may seem.

• Wreath

While laurels represent eternal glory, traditional wreaths symbolize eternal life. Given their spiritual context, they’re also symbolic of faith and light.

• Geometric patterns

Geometric patterns come in all shapes and sizes. Because of this, their meanings vary. Straight lines and angles are indicative of order, whereas curves can symbolize connection and togetherness. 

• Leaf

As part of nature, leaves symbolize growth and fertility. Their meaning also changes depending on color and season. Green leaves suggest hope and renewal, while dead leaves represent deterioration and grief.

• Lightning

Lightning is quick and its target(s) unpredictable. It represents sudden knowing or loss of ignorance (similar to the metaphorical lightbulb turning on).

• Three-Leaf Clover

Also known as a shamrock, the three-leaf clover is the more common form of clover, with its three leaves representing love, faith, and hope.

• Planet

Symbolism varies depending upon the planet, but in general, planets symbolize divine influence, as well as basic human urges.


How to create designs with PicMonkey's symbols and graphics

1. Start with a blank canvas

The best place to start when using symbols and/or graphics is with one of our pre-sized canvases. In PicMonkey’s editor, click Create new > Blank Canvas, and pick the size you want. 

2. Customize with PicMonkey’s massive library of design elements

Once you have your canvas, it’s time to customize! Choose from our huge selection of graphics, text, and stock videos

3. Make tweaks to match your brand

Of course, you want everything you use to match your brand. Make tweaks as needed with our easy-to-use design tools. Alter design colors, modify graphics, and use on-brand effects to get the most out of your design.  

4. Share your work

Once your new design is ready to be shared with the world, you can download for printing or digital sharing. If you’re posting on social, we recommend exporting your image as a JPG. If printing, choose a PNG file. For more information on printing great photos, take a look at our printing guide.

Explore hundreds of symbols with a PicMonkey subscription.

Joe Wolff is a Chicago-based writer and novelist. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking fancy things and then ruining the plating, running so that his tall and awkward frame isn't wasted, and allowing Chicago sports teams to determine his mood. He's a proud graduate of the University of Florida, whose sports teams tend to do a much better job of mood regulation.