Meaning and origin of symbols and signs page 1 (A - F)

On this page there is a list of symbols, signs, amulet and talisman with their meaning and origin. Because there are so many symbols I have divided the content on multiple pages. On this page you can find the description of the symbols whose names start with A to F, the rest of the symbols are on the next pages.

© 1998-2016 Hein Pragt

Meaning and origin of symbols and signs (A - F)


Three dots on hand symbol
3 dots symbol. This protective symbol is very common among sailors and convicts and as far as I know the general meaning is faith, hope and love. These dots are also known as hobo dots. The origin of this symbol is unclear to me. The three dots in a triangle are also used in Turkey as a symbol of being one of the tribesmen. Here the three dot stand for "I hear nothing, I see nothing and I tell nothing".
Abracadabra symbol
Abracadabra symbol. This is a very famous talisman, it has been in use for centuries as a general luck amulet against disease and pain. There is some doubt about the origin, some think it is of Roman origin where it was used against fevers, others think it is from the ancient Babylonian meaning "abbada ke Dabra” witch means “disappear” as a command to the demons. The origin could also be the Hebrew initials for father, son, and holy spirit. The triangle can be both up and down. In ancient alchemy this symbol was utilized as an antidote for multiple illnesses and used to inspire natural healing processes.
adinkrahene symbol
Adinkrahene symbol. The origin of this symbol is West Africa and it arose soon after 1800. Its widely used in musical instruments and especially on djembe drums. The symbol is used in various scenes and symbolizes generosity, fortitude and prudence, the symbol is therefore often associated with leadership.
adonis symbol
Adonis symbol. The origin of this symbol is the Greek mythology, Adonis was an extremely handsome young man who was loved by Aphrodite. This is why now-days we still call a handsome boy an Adonis, but Adonis is also used for a boy or man who is proud about his beauty and who wears extremely fancy clothes and make-up. According to Greek mythology, Adonis was born in Lebanon from an affair of princess Myrrha and her father Cinyras . When the father Cinyras discovered that he had slept with his daughter, he wanted to kill her, but the gods turned her into a myrrh tree and after nine months a very pretty boy named Adonis was born. The goddess Persephone and Aphrodite, who both were in love with him, raised him. When he grew up Adonis was a fearless and reckless hunter.
Air symbol
Air symbol. This symbol dates back to alchemy and represents the element of air. Witches also use this symbol. The symbol resembles the earth symbol, with the point of the triangle pointing upwards. Air is the element of the East, connected to the soul and the breath of life. If you’re doing a working related to communication, wisdom or the powers of the mind, Air is the element to focus on. Air carries away your troubles, blows away strife, and carries positive thoughts to those who are far away.
Akua'ba doll symbol
Akuaba Doll symbol. The origin of the name of these dolls "Akua'ba" comes from an Akan legend about a woman named Akua, who because of her infertility consulted a fortune teller. She was advised to cut a wooden doll of a child and care for it and wear it around as a real child. She was mocked by her fellow villagers and her wooden child was named Akua'ba (child of Akua). However, when they actually got pregnant and had a daughter this doll was generally recognized as a remedy for infertility. The doll looks like a female figure with her hands resting on her hips. The figure has a relatively long torso and the neck is made of seven "rings". The doll also has a nearly round head, which clearly eyes, nose and mouth drawn. The hair is shaped like half a moon and is often decorated.
Alchemy symbol
Alchemy symbol. This is a simple 17th century symbol that marks the merging of various geometric figures. It represents the different elements and spells that were needed in alchemy. Today, it is sometimes used in computer games. The first Chinese alchemists were the Taoists about 550 BC. While western alchemy was based on four elements and three principles, the Chinese alchemy used the other complementary principles of yin and yang which yin represents the passive feminine element and yang the active male. In Western alchemy we find the same idea with sulfur as mercury.
All seeing eye symbol
All seeing eye symbol. The all seeing eye is a symbol that looks like an eye surrounded by rays and sometimes by a triangle. In Christianity it stands for the all seeing eye of God that watches over humanity. Within Freemasonry is is also used and it should be illuminated during the temple lodge. The all seeing eye symbol hangs in all temples of Masons on the wall opposite to the entrance. On Dollar Bills is a pyramid with an eye in it. In the history of the United States Freemasons have played a major role as well, and the pyramid and the eye are symbols of the Freemasons. The symbolism of the eye is much more religious, it is the eye of God who watches over us and the pyramid could be a reference to the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Allah symbol
Allah Mohammed bead. This symbol is a very modest charm and there are only two words on it. On the one side there is written Allah and on the side Muhammad, in Arabic script.
Amra symbol
Amra symbol. Aum Amra has the shape of a mango and associated with Lord Ganesha. Mangoes are the sweetest fruits and symbolize prosperity and the happy fulfillment of legitimate worldly desires.
Amsterdam three crosses symbol
Amsterdam three crosses symbol. This symbol with three crosses, is the symbol of the city of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. The three crosses are called Andrew's cross. The St. Andrew's crosses are used throughout Amsterdam and are also used in the arms of Amsterdam in the middle of the shield. The city uses this symbol as a logo and in Amsterdam you can see the three crosses on the green poles that are used as separation between bicycle area and the road and they also avoid cars to park on the sidewalk. The origin of this symbol is in the 14th century.
ananse ntontan symbol
Ananse ntontan symbol. This symbol, the Ananse Ntontan is also called "the spider" and it is an ancient African symbol of wisdom , creativity and complexity of life. It is derived from Ananse, the messenger of the supreme being, and it is a very clever spider who is constantly looking for more wisdom. Traditionally when someone told stories around the campfire, it was custom to interrupt this story to tell a riddle. This mystery had to be solved by the listeners before the story went on. Listeners could also contribute to the story.
anchor symbol
Anchor symbol. The anchor is the well known symbol of hope, in the Christian culture it represents hope in Jesus Christ. This symbol was also the emblem of St. Clement, the Bishop of Rome, who according to tradition was tied to an anchor and thrown into the sea. In the letter to the Hebrews: "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,  where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf." (Hebrews 06,19-20).
ahnk sysmboolahnk sysmbool
Ankh cross symbol. The ankh also known as key of life or the key of the Nile or crux ansata is an ancient Egyptian symbol that means "life". It looks like a T shaped cross, topped with a loop that serves as a handle. The Egyptian gods are often portrayed carrying it by its loop, or bearing one in each hand, arms crossed over their chest. Because the shape also looks like a key, it is also called key of life or Nile key. This symbol is often used as emblem by esoteric groups.
at sign
AT sign. The at sign, @, normally read as "at", is originally an accounting and commercial invoice abbreviation meaning "at the rate of" sign. The at sign symbol, also called amphora, dating from Spain in the 16th century where it was a unit weight. In the 70 's the computer engineer Ray Thomlinson chose the @ sign in the display for e -mail addresses. Ray Thomlinson worked on the ARPANET project, which later evolved into the Internet. In English the meaning of the @ sign was already "at" and on the Internet is now often used as a prefix for a location like (@ receiver) and CU @ 7:30.
atom symbol
Atomic symbol. This is a symbol of an atom, it has become more and less a symbol of the element uranium, a symbol for nuclear power plants and atomic bombs. It also stands for nuclear research and for the location of nuclear power plants on maps. Today it is also a symbol for atheists, some of them wear this symbol as a necklace, like the Christians wear a cross.
Aya symbol
Aya symbol. The symbol of the Aya is an image of a fern. This plant is very resistant and it can grow in the most difficult areas. The symbol sends out a message that the person who wears it is not afraid of anything, is tough and can handle all potential problems. This symbol can be worn as an expression of an open challenge to an oppressor or a threatener. The origin of this symbol is the Adinkra culture in Ghana.
Ayat amulet
Ayat amulet. The ayat amulet is a popular Islamic symbol, and it is a small rectangular plate that is usually made of gold or silver but sometimes it is a different material or different shape. On this amulet there are words from the Koran in Arabic script. The verse on the amulet is called Ayat al Kursi and this is the translation: Allah! There is no god but He, the Living, the Self-Subsisting, Supporter of all. No slumber can seize Him, nor sleep. His are all things in the heavens and on earth. Who is it that can intercede in His presence, except as He permits? He knows what appears to His creatures before, or after, or behind them. They shall not compass any of His knowledge except as He wills. His Throne/dominion extends over the heavens and the earth, and He feels no fatigue in guarding and presevering them. For He is the Most High, the Supreme in glory.
ax symbol
Ax symbol. Since ancient times the ax has been important for hunting, fighting and work. In Africa the decorative (ornamental ax) is often the symbol of the power of the chief. Because large sacrificial animals were killed by ax in many cultures, the ax was also associated with blood sacrifice and as a sign of authority, like with the ancient Romans. In the Christian era, the ax was a symbol, or an attribute, of Saint Joseph (the carpenter) and St. Boniface, who cut down the sacred tree of the thunder god with an ax. A special form is the double-edged ax. The ax of the Indians was originally a mace and after contact with European settlers it was equipped with an ax blade.
bass clef
Bass clef or key of F. This symbol is used in music to display the value (height ) of the notes on the staff. On stereo equipment, the symbol is used to indicate the controller for the low tones (bass).
Baubo symbol
Baubo symbol. This is an ancient symbol from the Greek mythology. It is associated with joy, singing and dancing, uninhibited sexuality and fertility. The figure often has no body, with the head placed directly on the legs. Baubo is called as the maker of (obscene) jokes that made Demeter laugh when she withdrew herself from earth, and hid in a cave. The Baubo is an old woman who lifts her dress to show her genitals, in Greek this is referred to as ana-suromai.
bes symbol
Bes symbol. This is an image of the protecting demon Bes from ancient Egypt. The icon serves as a protection against the evil eye, magic, and dangerous animals. Bes was the god of music and dance, the god of war and slaughter, and a destroying force of nature. He was also a protector of children and the protector of women in labor. The symbol of Bes is most likely of equatorial African origin, although some think the origin is the Middle East.
blue eye symbol
Blue eye symbol. The origin of this symbol is Turkey and is is the counterpart of the eye of Horus. It is known locally as “Nazur boncuk” or evil eye stone and is worn as jewelry or key chain. People hang this symbol in their car or hang it in their home to protect them from the evil eye.
Buddha (laughing)
Buddha (laughing) The Laughing Buddha is also known as the Maitreya Buddha or the Buddha of the future. This is a symbol of happiness, kindness and innocent joy. Its believed that he will bring great wealth, and he was the patron saint of goldsmiths in ancient China. His round belly is regarded as a physical representation of happiness and wealth. Who rubs his stomach once a day will increase his chances in fortune.
pot-bellied Buddha
Buddha (pot-bellied) This cheerful grinning bald man with his bare chest, the Chinese Mi-lo fo. Actualy it is a later incarnation of Buddha. Mi-lo fo was a beloved symbol throughout East Asia a symbol of unencumbered joy, the hand filled with gifts and often surrounded by playing children. Misfortune and misery would be taken away by this figure and it would give purely earthly bliss. In Japan he is a household god called Hotei and he brings peace and prosperity.
caduceus symbol
Caduceus symbol. The caduceus symbol is a symbol of the Greek god Hermes or Mercury to the Romans, who is the messenger of the gods. The staff consists of a staff width two snakes around it and sometimes the caduceus has two wings at its top. In the world of alchemy the two snakes are the symbol of the balance between the substances Sulphur and Mercury. In modern symbolism the caduceus is the symbol of commerce and trade.
calumet symbol
Calumet symbol. The calumet is the sacred pipe of the North American Indians and it is often called peace pipe by Europeans. In reality, the sacred pipe was a ritual and symbolic object and the sign of the messenger. Various types of ceremonial pipes have been used by numerous Native American cultures. The style of pipe, materials smoked, and ceremonies are unique to the specific and distinct religions of those nations. Calumets were used to mark war and peace, as well as commerce and trade, and social and political decision-making. The word comes from Late Latin calamellus.
Celtic cross symbol
Celtic cross symbol. The Celtic cross is a symbol that combines a cross with a ring surrounding the intersection. It is a symbol that represents the bridge to the other world, and a higher energy level and knowledge. Nowadays its much used as a grave ornament mostly in Ireland but also in other countries.
Centaurs symbol
Centaurs symbol. The centaur is a mythological creature. Its head, arms, and chest are those of a human and the rest of its body, including four legs, hindquarters, and a tail is like that of a horse. The full name is hippocentaur (horse centaur), there is also a onocentaur (donkey centaur), bucentaur (cows centaur) and ichtyocentaur (fish centaur). Centaurs are usually depicted as brutal, bestial creatures. The origin seems to be that people lived in caves in the forests of Thessaly in the mountains where they are fed with raw meat. In stories and myths they had a wonderful double appearance of a man and a body of a horse.
chimaera symbol
Chimaera symbol. The Chimera is a monstrous creature from Greek mythology, it is a creature composed of parts of several animals, the head of a lion, the body of a goat and the tail of a serpent. Sometimes it spits out fire and flames and sometimes it also has wings. The sculpture is a common motif on ornaments. Seeing a Chimera was an omen of storms, shipwrecks and natural disasters, and in medieval Christian art the Chimaera is a symbol of satanic forces.
Saint Christopher symbol
Christopher amulet. This is a known travelers amulet of St. Christopher, the patron saint for the travelers. It prevents accidents and ensures that travelers get home safely. The origin is the story of the great strengths of the giant Offerus. He was looking for the most powerful creature and after the king and then the devil he met a hermit who told him about Jesus Christ, the true King who had come to help people. Offerus wanted to find the king, and every day he brought people across the river on his shoulders. He did this for seven years, and one day he carried a child across the river which was in fact Jesus Christ, who baptized him and said he would be called Christopher from that moment. Since then he was known as Christopher the Christ bearer, patron of travelers.
Cicade symbol
Cicade symbol. Cicadas live all around the world and they are known for their ability to sing and make a sound that often resembles a high humming or whistling. The symbolism goes back to ancient times where the animal is a good luck charm and represents resurrection, immortality and spiritual development. In China, the cicada symbolized immortality or life after death, and they often put a jade cicada amulet in the mouth of the deceased. Stylized ornaments of Cicadas are also used around the world.
Claddagh symbol
Claddagh symbol
Claddagh symbol. The Claddagh's distinctive design features two hands clasping a heart, and usually surmounted by a crown. The elements of this symbol are often said to correspond to the qualities of love (the heart), friendship (the hands), and loyalty (the crown). A "Fenian" Claddagh ring, without a crown, is a slightly different take on the design. Claddagh rings, with (more commonly than not) or without the crown, are relatively popular among the Irish. The origin is not clear but one of the stories is about a fishing village called Claddagh where the ring will be designed and worn by the fishermen of Claddagh. Originally, the symbol would be painten on the boats and sails. If the fishermen of Claddagh saw foreign colleagues in their waters, it could be checked by means of this symbol.
Coco de mer symbol
Coco de mer symbol. These symbol is originally a massive, double coconut, each weighing 23 kg and contain the largest seeds in the world. The shape of this giant nut looks like a heart and the inside looks like the legs and behind of a woman. The fruit, which requires 6–7 years to mature and a further two years to germinate, is sometimes also referred to as the Sea Coconut, Love Nut, double coconut, coco fresse, or Seychelles Nut. Because of the sexual association is a small image of the nut is sometimes used as a fertility symbol.
Compass and square symbol
Compass and square symbol. The Square and Compasses is the single most identifiable symbol of Freemasonry. Both the square and compasses are architect's tools and are used in Masonic ritual as emblems to teach symbolic lessons. Some Lodges and rituals explain these symbols as lessons in conduct. As measuring instruments, the tools represent judgment and discernment.
Cornucopia symbol
Cornucopia symbol. The Cornucopia also called a horn of plenty, is often used as a symbol in heraldry and it originates from the Greek mythology. According to tradition, the Cornucopia the horn of the goat Amalthea, who fed Zeus in Crete. To thank her Zeus placed her in the sky as a constellation, and her horn gave the holder everything he or she wanted. The Romans associated their goddess Fortuna with the Cornucopia, but also the goddesses of Hope (Spes). It is by tradition made of a goat's horn filled to overflowing with fruits, flowers and grains of the harvest. It symbolizes prosperity, abundance and good fortune. It also has associations with fertility.
kruis symbol
Cross symbol. The cross is a very old symbol, it is a common Christian symbol, but before that the cross already was a symbol of reconciliation, synthesis between heaven and earth and the four directions. As a Christian symbol is found in various forms. For Christians the cross is the symbol of the suffering of Jesus, also called "Christ." who died on the cross (a Roman torture device). It is therefore a symbol of reconciliation between God and men, the central fact in the Christian faith.
crossed fingers symbol
Crossed fingers symbol. Crossed fingers are probably a religious symbol, that eventually became a superstition. It was a method to make a cross with your fingers without anyone seeing it. It is suggested that by crossing your fingers while you lie the devil has no chance to seize the soul the moment when the sin is committed.
darwin symbol
Darwin symbol. This symbol consists of a fish with legs and it is the counterpart of the Christian fish symbol. It symbolizes the evolution and protective supremacy of scientific reason over faith. It is a protective symbol for evolutionists.
Denkyem symbol
Denkyem symbol. This origin of this symbol is Ghana (Africa) and it is used to decorate clothing. It looks a little like a crocodile and its symbolizes an animal living in the water, while he is breathing air. This symbolizes the ability to adapt to the circumstances.
Dharma-chakra symbol
Dharma-chakra wheel. This wheel is the basic teachings of Buddhism, the wheel has eight spokes that represent the Noble Eightfold Path. The word right in these eight items designates true or correct: right knowledge, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration. In view of both the importance and the difficulty of accomplishing these eight activities and eliminating suffering, the Buddha and the earliest Buddhist advocated the monastic life as the way to enlightenment.
Dove with palm branch
Dove with palm branch. The dove is a symbol of reconciliation and peace, the dove refers to simplicity, innocence and purity. This symbol was also used in the Bible to the end of the Flood, when the dove brought an olive branch to Noah's ark. In the Christian tradition, the dove sitting on a tombstone is a symbol of the soul of the deceased, gathering forces for the journey to heaven.
Devils trap symbol
Devils trap symbol. The devil’s trap is a symbol used to immobilize and control demons. If a devil or demon walks inside the outer circle of a devil's trap, it cannot leave it and is trapped. Devil's traps have not been used only to detain a demon, but are also drawn at entrances to prevent access to a building, room, or container. As a talisman it serves to eliminate the evil and attract fortune.
Earth symbolEarth symbol
Earth symbol. The symbol for planet earth is a globe bisected by meridian lines into four quarters. The triangle shape is the alchemical symbol for earth. The earth symbol is also used in witchcraft. Earth has the properties cold and dry, and symbolizes physical sensation but also resistance, divine powers, opposite of heaven, fertility and a solid base to build upon.
Elephant symbol
Elephant symbol. The elephant has a positive symbolic power, a white elephant announced the birth of Buddha. The Hindu god Ganesha, who represents wisdom and art of writing, has the head of an elephant with one tooth. Because a lot of elephants are very old, they are also the symbol of overcoming death.
Endless knot symbol
Endless knot symbol. This symbol is one of the 8 lucky charms, and probably originated in China. It represents eternity and immortality, and it would work as a defense against disease and early death. In Nepal, these symbols often hung near doors or windows to prevent illness and death and evil spirits. This symbol also appears in the Celtic culture. Other interpretations of the symbol are: eternal love and friendship and the wisdom of the Buddha.
Eyes symbol
Eyes symbol. This origin of this symbol is the ancient Egyptian civilization were often protecting eyes were painted on the bow of a ship to look away the evil eye. This is still taken very seriously in countries around the Mediterranean.
Eye in hand stmbol
Eye in hand symbol. This symbol is found throughout the Middle East and it is a common symbol against the evil eye and its used to ward off evil. The blue eye in a hand originates from Turkey, where the color blue is common practice for the evil eye.
Eye of Horus symbol
Eye of Horus symbol. In some cultures, it is also known as udjat. This symbol dates back to ancient Egypt and represents the eye of the sun god Horus who was usually depicted as a falcon, who lost an eye in a fight with Set. It was intended to protect the pharaoh in the afterlife and to ward off evil. Ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern sailors would frequently paint this symbol on the bow of their vessel to ensure safe sea travel.
fasces symbol
Fasces symbol. The fasces or rod bundles were the symbol of Roman authority. They were carried by lictors in front of high magistrates. It was characterized by an ax head projecting from a bundle of elm or birch rods about 5 feet (1.5 metres) long and tied together with a red strap. It symbolized penal power over life and death, but not within the city of Rome, where the people had the highest vote for death sentences. The fasces was originally an Etruscan symbol where the ax was a double ax . Benito Mussolini’s Fascist Party of Italy was named for the fasces, which the members adopted in 1919 as their emblem. So fascism derives its name from the fasces.
Phallic symbol
Phallic symbol. Also an erected penis was used as a remedy for the evil eye. Since there is also an element of threat posed by an erect penis is thought that in this way the evil could be averted. In ancient Rome, this amulet was called a 'cenfascinum'. In Rome this striking amulets were openly worn especially by soldiers as they went into battle. People in Thailand use a charm that leaves nothing to the imagination called the 'palad khik' that stands for “honorable surrogate penis”. Men wear this amulet to protect their genitals and increase their chances with woman.
Fica of fig sign
Fica or fig sign. In Italy this sign is known as "fica", for the resemblance to female genitalia, and it was a very rude gesture in past centuries. This symbol also would ward off the evil eye and would protect the public against hostile creatures and forces. The protective effect may be due to the fact that mental demons are sexless beings.
fihankra symbol
Fihankra symbol. This is a symbol that comes from Ghana and it is a symbol of security and safety. It is characteristic to Akan (Asante) architecture, the municipal housing has only one entrance and exit.
Fleur de Lis symbol
Fleur de Lis symbol. The fleur de lis is a stylized lily or iris that is used as a decorative design or symbol. King Louis VII of France gave this Lily a place in his family coat of arms, and under his reign the lily became the emblem of the French monarchy and the symbol of the Holy Virgin for the Christians. The fleur de lis or lily of French was the emblem of the French kings.
fu symbol
fu symbol
FU symbol. FU is a Chinese symbol that symbolizes authority, power and the power to distinguish right from wrong. In many Western countries, is it used as a symbol of justice. In ancient China, this symbol of the bat was used as a lucky charm. Five bats are a symbol of the five blessings: longevity, wealth, health, love of virtue, and natural death.
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Last update: 20-02-2018

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