May 14, 2013
emblematic (adjective)
\em-bluh-MAT-ik\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: of, relating to, or serving as an emblem : symbolic
How do you use it?
The bouquet of wildflowers we collected is emblematic of spring in this part of the country.
Are you a word wiz?

"Emblematic" traces back to the Greek root "emballein." Which of the following do you think is the correct meaning of "emballein"?

If you chose answer C, "to insert," you're right! Something that is emblematic represents an idea, state, emotion, or other thing that cannot be seen by itself. It comes from the word "emblem," which today usually refers either to an object or picture that is used to suggest a thing that cannot be shown, in the way that a flag is an emblem of a country, or to a person or thing that represents an idea, in the way that a person can be an emblem of community spirit. The original emblem, however, was a picture with a phrase or sentence that was intended as a moral lesson. "Emblem" comes from the Latin word "emblema" (itself from Greek "emballein") referring to decorative work set into a surface—that is, inserted into it.
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