The actual purpose of a creed is to provide a doctrinal statement of correct belief or orthodoxy. The creeds of Christianity have been drawn up at times of conflict about doctrine: acceptance or rejection of a creed served to distinguish believers and deniers of particular doctrines. For that reason, a creed was called in Greek a σύμβολον (symbolon), which originally meant half of a broken object which, when fitted to the other half, verified the bearer’s identity. The Greek word passed through Latin symbolum into English “symbol”, which only later took on the meaning of an outward sign of something. (link)
Someone just sent this to me, believing I might find it interesting which I do.
Our word symbol started out as a very concrete concept. It makes sense that it would come from something more basic than itself and with a much narrower meaning.
It’s also quite beautiful that a symbol only works as intended when it connects more or less as intended with the mind of its receiver(s). As with a symbolon, all symbols that work must have at least two functioning halves, a sender and a receiver.
This is a basic part of the definition of semiotics; that a message always has a sender and receiver, though in semiotics it is well-recognized that the receiver often receives the message differently than the sender intended.
If a symbol falls in the woods and no one perceives it is it still a symbol?