Randy from Traverse City was intrigued that the meaning of the word icon went without
much protest from the sacred to the secular. Icon came from the Greek εἰκον,
where it meant likeness, image, portrait, semblance, and similitude. Ultimately,
it tracks back to the verb εἴκειν, to be like.
The word icon is used in the Greek translation of the Book of Genesis where it says,
"Then God said, let us make man in our image ….” Christian icons began to appear
early in Church history. Since so many common people were illiterate, icons were
useful means to represent Biblical events and teachings.
After the word
icon was transliterated into English, it went through several meanings.
An image, figure, or representation.
√ 1833 Orthodox
Church. A representation of some sacred
personage, in painting, bas-relief, or mosaic, itself regarded as sacred, and
thus honored and revered.
√ 1952 A person or thing regarded as a
representative symbol, esp. of a culture or movement; a person, institution,
etc., considered worthy of admiration or respect.
Computing. A small symbolic picture of a
physical object on a computer screen, esp. one that represents a
particular option and can be selected to exercise that option.
A quick look through an internet
search engine reveals that icon is the name of a light sport aircraft company,
the name of a company that makes motorcycle gear, the name of a programming
language, the name of a company that makes handcrafted vehicles (including an
electric bike), and a global provider of outsourced development services to the
pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries. And that’s only
page one of the search results!
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