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The Devil's Dictionary

by Ambrose Bierce
SYLPH
SYMBOLIC

SYMBOL

-n.

Something that is supposed to typify or stand for something else. Many symbols are mere "survivals" - things which having no longer any utility continue to exist because we have inherited the tendency to make them; as funereal urns carved on memorial monuments. They were once real urns holding the ashes of the dead. We cannot stop making them, but we can give them a name that conceals our helplessness.