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Reference resources on the meanings of symbols. Most are in print in the library's Reference Collection, unless otherwise indicated. Titles of print books link to more info about the resource in the library catalog.
For browsing purposes, books on symbolism are at 302.222 and books on mythology and folklore are at 398 in Reference and the stacks.
Encyclopedias of symbols (in print in library Reference Collection)
Signs and Symbols: An Illustrated Guide to their Origins and MeaningsFrom simple shapes and colors to gods, mythical beasts, sacred rituals, and global branding, over 2,000 signs and symbols are explained through text, illustrations, and photography. Grouped thematically and comprehensively cross-referenced. Includes the physical world, animals, plants, humans, colors, shapes, patterns, numbers, picture writing, alphabets, international signs, professional signs, brands and logos, heraldic emblems, national flags, sign languages and signals, and symbolic gestures.
A Dictionary of Literary SymbolsAccessible online. Explains and illustrates the literary symbols that we all frequently encounter (such as swan, rose, moon, gold), and gives hundreds of cross-references and quotations. (Subscription resource. Log-in required for remote access)
Call Number: REF 809.915 F373d and online
Dictionaries of symbols (in print in library Reference Collection)
Titles below link to catalog record for more information about the book.
A Dictionary of Superstitions by Iona Opie (Editor); Moira Tatem (Editor)Is it good or bad luck to mention a pig to a fisherman? What does it portend when you break a double-yolked egg? How many frogs do you need to cure whooping cough? Ranging from the familiar to the bizarre, and including everything from spells and omens to rituals and taboos, this delightfully informative dictionary covers a wide array of popular superstitions, touching on virtually every aspect of human culture. They embrace family life and the lore of farmers, sailors, miners, and actors; offer advice on the signs to observe when contemplating a journey or a marriage; reveal the significance of animals, plants, stones, colors, food and drink, the elements, and heavenly bodies; and outline the precautions to be taken after a death in the house or during a thunderstorm. Each entry is arranged alphabetically according to its central idea or object, and illustrated with a selection of chronologically ordered quotations that indicate the history and development of each belief. Superstitions have never before been treated in such depth or on such a scale. An entertaining volume for anyone curious about the beliefs of the past, A Dictionary of Superstitions also makes a valuable contribution to the study of folklore, providing the first systematic account of beliefs that form an integral part of our social life.