Swastika Swas"ti*ka, Swastica Swas"ti*ca, n. [Also {suastica}, {svastika}, etc.] [Skr. svastika, fr. svasti walfare; su well + asti being.] A symbol or ornament in the form of a Greek cross with the ends of the arms at right angles all in the same direction, and each prolonged to the height of the parallel arm of the cross. A great many modified forms exist, ogee and volute as well as rectilinear, while various decorative designs, as Greek fret or meander, are derived from or closely associated with it. The swastika is found in remains from the Bronze Age in various parts of Europe, esp. at Hissarlik (Troy), and was in frequent use as late as the 10th century. It is found in ancient Persia, in India, where both Jains and Buddhists used (or still use) it as religious symbol, in China and Japan, and among Indian tribes of North, Central, and South America. It is usually thought to be a charm, talisman, or religious token, esp. a sign of good luck or benediction. Max M["u]Ller distinguished from the swastika, with arms prolonged to the right, the {suavastika}, with arms prolonged to the left, but this distinction is not commonly recognized. Other names for the swastika are {fylfot} and {gammadion}.

Note: The swastika with arms bent to the right came to be used used as a symbol of Aryan supremacy by the Nazi party in Germany, 1933 - 1945; hence, it is now associated in the United States and European countries with Nazism or antisemitism. It is sometimes used by neo-nazis, or by antisemites as an antisemitic symbol. [Webster 1913 Suppl. +PJC]

The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

Look at other dictionaries:

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