A sign is a variable -- like a word, for example -- which stands for another variable or meaning. The word "door" is a sign; the actual physical object indicated by the word "door" is called the "signified." The difference between a sign and a symbol is that a sign and its signified enjoy a more specific relationship than that between a symbol and what it symbolizes. For example, the word door stands for a more narrow range of meanings than a symbol like the clock tower atop Bryan Hall, which, as a symbol of the university, can be called upon to have a much broader range of associations.

use your browser's "back" function to return to the text

browse glossary index