Is there a word that means "the word looks like the object it describes"?

For example: "bed" looks a bit like a bed, with the b and the d acting as head and foot boards, with the e as the mattress. "Shark" Looks a bit like a shark, with the capital S looking like the tail fin and the k looking like the mouth.

  • 2
    Well, what's the visual equivalent of 'onomatopoeia'?
    – user362
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 13:21

2 Answers 2


It is a type of iconicity.

The Wikipedia entry for iconicity currently begins:

In functional-cognitive linguistics, as well as in semiotics, iconicity is the conceived similarity or analogy between the form of a sign (linguistic or otherwise) and its meaning, as opposed to arbitrariness.


I think it is a particular type of autological word, but I haven't come across a discussion of this type before, so I don't know a word for it.

  • 1
    Likely considered a "self-autologlyph." While autologlyphs normally are in regards to art made to reflect the words, the fact these words inherently reflect their meaning is the reason why I would think they qualify. Commented Oct 24, 2018 at 3:14

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