Signs & Symbols of the World

Over 1,001 Visual Signs Explained

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Pub Date 06 Jul 2021 | Archive Date 22 Jul 2021

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This informative and engaging illustrated reference provides the stories behind 1,001 signs and symbols, from ancient hieroglyphs to modern-day political and subculture symbols.

What in the world does Ω mean? And what about its meaning might have led my coffee date to tattoo it on his entire forearm? Where did the symbol ∞ originate, and what was its first meaning? How did the ampersand symbol & come about and how was it applied daily in book publishing? And what is the full story behind that staring eye on top of the pyramid on our American dollar bill? This comprehensive guide to signs and symbols explains.

Find within:More than 1,000 illustrationsAn extensive collection of written and cultural symbols, including animals, instruments, stones, shapes, numbers, colors, plants, food, parts of the body, religious and astrological symbols, emojis, and gesturesHistorical facts culled from a wide variety of sourcesLearn all about the signs and symbols that surround us and their part in our rich world history.
This informative and engaging illustrated reference provides the stories behind 1,001 signs and symbols, from ancient hieroglyphs to modern-day political and subculture symbols.

What in the world...

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EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9780785839651
PRICE $17.99 (USD)

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Average rating from 35 members

Featured Reviews

The signs and symbols of the world book is a good introduction into the use of symbols for someone who is interested in learning about them. This book has good illustrations and a wide array of subjects it touches upon. I was most impressed with the addition of the modern gender representation symbols because i haven’t seen that in other symbolism books and it is an important addition. This book touches on a lot of different subjects but only on a preliminary level.

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I was granted eARC access to Signs & Symbols of the World by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts are my own and my review is honest.

Overall this is a really interesting book for those who are curious about the world. It would be great as a coffee table book, something for waiting rooms, or a treasured addition to the bookshelves of the generally curious. In some cases, like with laundry and dashboard symbols, this is the only reference someone would need. In most cases, this is a jumping-off point; an introduction to a topic one might want to look into further.

It's full of things you might expect to see in a book on symbols, like a brief introduction to ancient hieroglyphics, a full explanation of western and eastern astrology symbols, a guide to what the markings on your laundry labels mean, etc. It also has things you probably wouldn't ever dream of finding in such a broad, general guide, like Scottish tartans and what common animals in mythology tend to represent.

Could you learn to read sheet music from this book? Yes, enough to teach yourself basic piano or sing from sheet music. Are you going to translate hieroglyphics or ancient Celtic runes from the brief mentions here? Probably not. This is an introduction, and those are complex linguistic archaeology topics.

My biggest criticism of this book (besides the fact that the eARC had individual page orientation issues - I don't expect to see that in the final printing) is how USA-centric it is. For example, in the section on common gestures, the "hand over heart" gesture is explained for lots of cultures with China mentioned in the first two sentences... but the heading is "Pledge of Allegiance." Really guys? This Canadian galley reviewer is rolling her eyes.

If you're curious about the world around you, want an interesting conversation starter for your living room, or have a waiting room to adorn with reading material, this is definitely a great option.

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Putting Signs and Symbols of the World together seems like such a monumental task. When I was reading through it, I couldn't believe how many different symbols there were! Yes, the subtitle says over 1001 signs, but that's not something you can compute until you actually see it.

McElroy does an excellent job of providing enough context to explain the symbol. This style also allows the reader to decide if they want to know more or not, at which point they could go research the symbol using the knowledge from this book.

I don't have a particular interest in technological, manufacturing, or scientific symbols, but I definitely find them useful and think it would be beneficial to have on hand if the need ever arose. I loved the inclusion of symbols from different cultures (like the Chinese Zodiac), as I think that would allow readers of all ages (but specifically young readers) the chance to broaden their worldview.

I definitely recommend buying this book, especially for those who may be super curious about the different facets that make up the world and our society. I know I eagerly await its publication.

Overall rating: 5/5

Signs & Symbols of the World will be available for purchase on July 6th. Be sure to add it to your Goodreads shelf and see where it's available for purchase. Also, be sure to check out D. R. McElroy's website!

I was lucky enough to be able to read this Advanced Reader's Copy through my partnership with NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

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thanks to netgalley and the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

this was an insightful read of signs and symbols from around the world, different cultures and religions, etc etc. it included a large collection of those existing in the world today and from ancient time and provided generalized info for each one without being too lengthy or boring. this book would be great as a coffee table book or used as reference for different things. i personally look forward to using some of these symbols in my historical fantasy novels i'm working on. great read.

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“Signs and Symbols of the World” by D.R. McElroy was an intriguing read containing a wealth of knowledge though a wide variety of categories. Topics such as alchemy, Celtic symbols, chemistry, currency, ideograms, military, music, mythology, popular gesture, religion, and more, delivered to the reader in way to give one just the right amount of information on the origin and background of any given symbol, without going overboard and losing the reader.

McElroy’s writing style and organization of the content is well put together. Even the most knowledgeable readers will learn something new on the symbols we see every day. I would absolutely recommend this book as a gift or as a display in your home. Great conversation starter as a coffee table book or a great gift for those with curious minds.

A sincere thank you to NetGalley and Quarto Publishing Group – Chartwell Books, for providing me an advance copy (ARC) of this book in exchange for an honest review. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to read this story and leave my review voluntarily.

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What a fantastic journey across time and cultures. Signs & Symbols of the World is a handy resource in a plethora of categories. While not entirely comprehensive, and some of the definitions are Western-culture specific, it did show several symbols that I was not familiar with. This book is very suitable for high school students and above.

Thank you NetGalley and Quarto Publishing Group – Chartwell Books for the opportunity to read an advance reading copy.

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This was a compelling and thoroughly enjoyable read from start to finish with plenty of insight into a fascinating topic written in an accessible and eminently readable fashion. Not only it insightful and educational but it's also entertaining to read; the best of both worlds. Filled with prominent signs and symbols as well those on the more esoteric side, McElroy takes us on a jaunt through different periods of time, different religions and a vast array of topics all utilising signs and symbolism and gives a brief overview and explanation of them, where they originate and what they mean. What more could you ask for?

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Signs & Symbols of the World by D.R. McElroy is exactly what the title says it is, signs and symbols of the world is put together by categories, from alchemy to astrology signs, sigils, with beautifully illustration's and drawings. There are descriptions, details and history.
I will be purchasing this book after reading it for review, I love this book!

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Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are surrounded by hundreds of symbols every day. Some of them are as old as humanity, while others have found their way in the modern, technological culture.

The book “Signs & Symbols of the world” offers a broad review of over 1000 symbols from subjects such as alchemy, astrology, chemistry, digital, language, military, music, mythology, religions, and pagan symbols and sigils.

It is a great informative read and starting point for further studies. This book is very interdisciplinary and would appear to a broad audience. “Signs & Symbols of the world” is not overwhelming with information and contains a wide variety of topics. It has a great graphic design and could be used as an inspiration for artistic work.

Who is this book for:

✦ Someone who loves learning and discovering the meaning of various symbols.
✦ A person interested in symbolism, religions, and mythology.
✦ Audience with eclectic hobbies that combine many interdisciplinary practices.
✦ Artists and writers, especially graphic designers and tattoo artists.
✦ Someone who needs a quick reference for various symbols and signs.

What could be improved:

The book is informative although in a minimalistic way. I’d love to see more narrowed downed topics in separate editions, for example - religion symbolism, mythological symbols, etc.

* Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for the eARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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I was beyond the moon reading this mammoth of a book. It is educational and entertaining in equal measure which is what makes it so perfect. Each symbol mentioned has a crisp historical anecdote and information regarding its usage.

I do believe that symbols are a very intrinsic part of our lives, so commonplace that we often don't think of them as a separate entity (unless one has to give a driving test haha) I think this gorgeous book {and it is gorgeous} can find a cozy place on your coffee table, I'm certainly going to buy it for mine!

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read this creation!

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This book was enjoyable. It was informative and enlightening to learn more about symbols from around the world. The illustrations are simple and pretty. The explanations are easy to understand.

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Signs & Symbols of the World is a comprehensive reference of more than 1000 symbols collected and curated by D. R. McElroy. Due out 6th July 2021 from Quarto on their Chartwell imprint, it's 256 pages and will be available in paperback and ebook formats (ebook available now).

The formal study of symbols and signage, semiotics, is fascinating. The fact that an abbreviated, sometimes tenuously related squiggle can convey information without words is amazing. This book gathers a chiliad (love that word) of symbols together for reference and perusal. In addition to the symbols themselves, the author provides an engaging overview over the history, development, and minutiae behind the symbol categories. This is a very wide ranging collection, everything from uniform rank symbols to alchemical and astrological symbols are included.

The entries are grouped thematically: alchemy, ancient & modern civilizations, astrology, celtic symbols, chemistry, digital, currency (yes, it bugged me too that this is the only chapter out of alphabetical order), ideograms, language, manufacturing, medical, military, music, mythology, popular gestures, religion, sex & gender, sigils & paganism, transportation, and writing & punctuation. In addition to the line drawn basic symbols, there are numerous colored illustrations and some photographs reproduced here. The photography and digital rendering of the symbols in electronic format is formatted and clear enough to follow. Some chapters have practical and/or academic uses, there's a capsule introduction to the periodic table, for example, with a clear explanation of the symbols used to identify and categorize each element. There are some clearly intentional omissions. In the chapter for hand gestures, for example, the "finger" (the "bird", "one finger salute") is overlooked. The author does advise caution when using hand gestures, especially abroad, as meanings vary widely by location. There are some whimsical additions as well - in the same chapter, the author has included both the Vulcan "live long and prosper" symbol as well as "Wakanda forever".

In general, this is a good introduction to a broad range of symbols with some background. It's accessible for all-ages and will give enthusiastic readers enough basic information to investigate further. Since it's appropriate for all ages, it would make a good school or public library selection as well as potential source material for tattoos, drawings, sketching, or journal use.

Four stars. Lots of interesting general info.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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Signs & Symbols of the World – Over 1,100 Visual Signs Explained
By D. R. McElroy

Now Available…

Ancient Secret Society Sigils to Computer Short-Cuts—A Master Reference

What a terrific find! D. R. McElroy has done an impressive job compiling an extraordinarily extensive compendium of symbology that is both modern and esoteric, historical and useful.

This is a pictorial research and reference manual of signs and sigils; hieroglyphs and pictographs; currency; emoji; military insignia; flags; astrology signs; medical symbols; religious iconography; emblems; mythology; musical notes; writing and punctuation; and so much more.

McElroy’s book is organized into well-defined Chapters, and has included an 11-page Index at the back to cross-reference every topic covered (and there are lots and lots of fascinating attributions).

Following is a great little tidbit from the book that I find truly useful and informative. The “thumbs up” sign in the Western world is typically a symbol for something positive. It typically means “OK,” “Yes,” “I will” or “Good.”

McElroy, however, cautioned that all cultures do not interpret gestures in the same way. In the Middle East, he said that the “thumbs up” sign is considered an extremely rude action because it means, “up yours!” Good to know…

This is a book that you will read, reference, and read many times again. It will also make the perfect gift for all of your Trivia Guru friends!


The Book Maven’s Journal Reviews for Word Connoisseurs
STAR RATING ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Signs & Symbols of the World – Over 1,100 Visual Signs Explained
By D. R. McElroy
Reference, Non-Fiction (Adults)
Publication Date 5 July 2021
Quarto Publishing Group – Chartwell Books

My Sincere Appreciation Goes to NetGalley, Author D. R. McElroy, and Quarto Publishing Group – Chartwell Books for Providing this Advance Reader's Copy for Review.

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Signs & Symbols of the World: Over 1,001 Visual Signs Explained by D.R. McElroy is a fairly comprehensive collection of symbols and their very basic meanings.

While this is a good reference book it is not a scholarly reference book. I don't mean to say it doesn't have a place in a scholar's library but it is neither exhaustive in its descriptions nor does it offer a bibliography or any notes. This is neither a positive nor a negative in and of itself, just something readers need to understand. I miss having a bibliography but I think that is just my personal quirk. This book offers enough information that if I want to research further I have a jumping off point here. Space is also, I think, a consideration. With so many signs and symbols from such a wide range of uses, a bibliography or reference section could get to be as long as the body of the book. I think, for what it is, a general reference for casual readers who want to have access to information, it works wonderfully.

I found the presentation to be appealing and I, for one, was neither confused about the layout or had problems knowing what captions went with what images. This is not a book on semiotics and does not get into a lot of depth, but most people who want a book covering this wide of an area don't want or need great depth, that can be found elsewhere, this is to answer the question "what is that symbol?" Why and how is a topic for another book(s).

I see two main places where this book will be very popular. First is the person who simply likes to have a handy source that can answer the basic question of what a particular symbol is. This person will also likely enjoy reading through the book, whether cover to cover or jumping around. And it certainly doesn't hurt that this is an attractive book and, at 8"x10", can sit on a bookshelf or on a tabletop for display. The second place is the academic or researcher (writers, game developers, etc) who wants a handy reference to place a found symbol within a context or, conversely, to find symbols within an area they are working.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.

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I have never read a book like this before and it was very interesting. I really enjoyed learning about all the different signs and symbols but I think I need the physical copy of the book to getting the full effect of what the author was trying to do.

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