Symbolic vs symbiotic

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Symbolic and symbiotic are two words that are similar in spelling and pronunciation, but have very different meanings. We will examine the definitions of the words symbolic and symbiotic, where they came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Symbolic is the adjective form of the word symbol, which is a marking or character that is a representation of an object, a process, an organization, a company, etc. Something that is symbolic is significant because of what it represents. The word symbol is derived from the Greek word symbolon which means token or mark.

Symbiotic is the adjective form of the word symbiosis, which is the relationship or interaction involving two organisms that benefits both of the organisms. Symbiotic is also used figuratively to describe a relationship or interaction between two different people or different groups that benefits both of the people or groups. The word symbiotic is derived from the word symbiosis, which is a Greek word that means to live together, and the suffix -ic which is used to form adjectives.


U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Monday called the designation a “very symbolic move” with limited practical effects. (The Japan Times)

The speaker of the defunct Catalan parliament dismissed its declaration of independence as symbolic as she fought to avoid jail yesterday. (The Times)

The longstanding “symbiotic relationship” between the People’s Action Party (PAP) and the labour movement will become even more crucial as workers face economic disruption, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday (Nov 19). (The Straits Times)

This will sound eerily familiar to media companies and news organisations that have a similarly symbiotic relationship with their technological frenemies. (The Guardian)