AskDefine | Define emblems

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Plural of emblem

Extensive Definition

In current American usage, police officers' badges refer specifically to their personal metal emblem — sometimes with a uniquely identifying number or name on it — while the woven emblems sewn on their uniforms identify all the members of a particular unit.
A symbol substitutes one thing for another, in a more concrete fashion:
  • The Christian cross is a symbol of the Crucifixion; it is an emblem of sacrifice.
  • The Red Cross is a symbol of the International Red Cross. A red cross on a white flag is the emblem of the humanitarian spirit.
  • The crescent shape is a symbol of the moon; it is an emblem of Islam.
  • The skull and crossbones is an symbol identifying a poison. The skull is an emblem of the transitory human life.

Other terminology

A totem is specifically an animal emblem that expresses the spirit of a clan. Heraldry knows its emblems as charges. The lion passant serves as the emblem of England, the lion rampant as the emblem of Scotland.
An icon consists of an image (originally a religious image), that has become standardized by convention. A logo is an impersonal, secular icon, usually of a corporate entity.

Emblems in history

Since the 15th century the terms of emblem (emblema) and emblematura belong to the termini technici of architecture. They mean an iconic painted, drawn, or sculptural representation of a concept affixed to houses and belong — like the inscriptions — to the architectural ornaments (ornamenta). Since the publication of De architectura libri decem by Leon Battista Alberti (14041472) the emblems (emblema) are related to Egyptian hieroglyphics and are considered as being a secret iconic language. Therefore the emblems belong to the Renaissance knowledge of antiquity which comprises not only Greek and Roman antiquity but also Egyptian antiquity as proven by the numerous obelisks built in 16th and 17th century Rome.
The 1531 publication in Augsburg of the first emblem book, the Emblemata of the Italian jurist Andrea Alciato launched a fascination with emblems that lasted two centuries and touched most of the countries of western Europe. "Emblem" in this sense refers to a didactic or moralizing combination of picture and text intended to draw the reader into a self-reflective examination of his or her own life. Complicated associations of emblems could transmit information to the culturally-informed viewer, a characteristic of the 16th century artistic movement called Mannerism.
emblems in Bulgarian: Емблема
emblems in Catalan: Emblema
emblems in German: Emblem
emblems in Spanish: Emblema
emblems in Italian: Emblema
emblems in Macedonian: Амблем
emblems in Dutch: Emblema
emblems in Norwegian: Emblem
emblems in Polish: Godło
emblems in Romanian: Emblemă
emblems in Russian: Эмблема
emblems in Slovenian: Emblem
emblems in Swedish: Emblem
emblems in Turkish: Amblem
emblems in Ukrainian: Емблема
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