A pictogram (also spelled "pictogramme") or pictograph is a symbol representing a concept, object, activity, place or event by illustration. Pictography is a form of writing in which ideas are transmitted through drawing. It is a basis of cuneiform and, to some extent, hieroglyphic writing, which uses drawings also as phonetic letters or determinative rhymes.Pictographs use a symbol or key to represent numbers.

Early written symbols were based on pictograms (pictures which resemble what they signify) and ideograms (symbols which represent ideas). They were used by the ancient Chinese culture since around 5000 BC and began to develop into logographic writing systems around 2000 BC. Pictograms are still in use as the main medium of written communication in some non-literate cultures in Africa, The Americas, and Oceania. Pictograms are often used as simple symbols by most contemporary cultures.

Pictograms can often transcend languages in that they can communicate to speakers of a number of tongues and language families equally effectively, even if the languages are cultures are completely different. This is why that road signs and similar pictographic material is often applied as a global standard expected to be understood by nearly all.

Modern use

Pictograms remain in common use today, serving as signs or instructions. Because of their graphical nature and fairly realistic style, they are widely used to indicate public toilets, or places such as airports and train stations.

A standard set of pictograms was defined in the international standard "ISO 7001: Public Information Symbols". Another common set of pictograms are the laundry symbols used on clothing tags and chemical hazard labels.

Pictographic writing as a modernist poetic technique is credited to Ezra Pound, though French surrealists accurately credit the Pacific Northwest American Indians of Alaska who introduced writing, via totem poles, to North America. [Reed 2003, p. xix]

See also

*Asemic Writing
*Chinese character
*DOT pictograms
*Icon (computing)
*Rock Art
*Writing system
*Yakima Indian Painted Rocks



* Reed, Ishmael (2003). "From Totems to Hip-Hop: A Multicultural Anthology of Poetry Across the Americas, 1900-2002", Ishmael Reed, ed. ISBN 1-56025-458-0.

External links

* [http://www.washjeff.edu/capl/ CAPL:The Culturally Authentic Pictorial Lexicon, photographic illustrations of objects for English-German]

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  • pictogram — pic‧to‧gram Illustration? [ˈpɪktəgræm] noun [countable] a drawing that shows numbers or amounts in the form of pictures: • In the pictogram below, the size of the books represents the sales of the textbook each year. * * * pictogram UK US… …   Financial and business terms

  • pictogram — (n.) 1910, from stem of L. pictus (see PAINT (Cf. paint)) + GRAM (Cf. gram) …   Etymology dictionary

  • pictogram — [[t]pɪ̱ktəgræm[/t]] pictograms also pictograph N COUNT A pictogram is a simple drawing that represents something. Pictograms were used as the earliest form of writing. [+ of] ...a pictogram of a pine tree …   English dictionary

  • pictogram — UK [ˈpɪktəɡræm] / US [ˈpɪktəˌɡræm] noun [countable] Word forms pictogram : singular pictogram plural pictograms maths a graph that shows numbers or amounts as simple pictures …   English dictionary

  • pictogram — /ˈpɪktəgræm/ (say piktuhgram) noun 1. Also, pictograph. a written symbol representing something by a stylised drawing of it or something associated with it and not by its name or the sound of its name, as, for example, the ancient Egyptian… …   Australian English dictionary

  • pictogram — piktograma statusas T sritis automatika atitikmenys: angl. icon; pictogram vok. Bildsymbol, n; Piktogramm, n rus. пиктограмма, f pranc. icône, f …   Automatikos terminų žodynas

  • pictogram — noun Etymology: International Scientific Vocabulary picto (from Latin pictus) + gram Date: 1910 pictograph …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • pictogram — См. pittogramma …   Пятиязычный словарь лингвистических терминов

  • pictogram — /pik teuh gram /, n. pictograph. [1960 65; < L pict(us) painted (see PICTURE) + O + GRAM1] * * * …   Universalium

  • pictogram — noun A picture that represents a word or an idea by illustration. Syn: pictograph, hieroglyph See Also: ideogram, logogram …   Wiktionary

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