Oophorectomy is the surgical removal of the ovaries of a female animal. In the case of non-human animals, this is also called spaying. It is a form of sterilization.

The removal of the ovaries together with the Fallopian tubes is called salpingo-oophorectomy. Oophorectomy and salpingo-oophorectomy are not common forms of birth control in humans; more usual is tubal ligation, in which the Fallopian tubes are blocked but the ovaries remain intact.

In humans, oophorectomy is most usually performed together with a hysterectomy - the removal of the uterus. Its use in a hysterectomy when there are no other health problems is somewhat controversial.

In animals, spaying involves an invasive removal of the ovaries, but rarely has major complications; the superstition that it causes weight gain is not based on fact. Spaying is especially important for certain animals that require the ovum to be released at a certain interval (called estrus or "heat"), such as cats and dogs. If the cell is not released during these animal's heat, it can cause severe medical problems that can be averted by spaying or partnering the animal with a male.

Oophorectomy is sometimes referred to as castration, but that term is most often used to mean the removal of a male animal's testicles.

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A symbol or (in many senses) token is a representation of something — an idea, object, concept, quality, etc..


Nature of symbols

A symbol can be a material object whose shape or origin is related, by nature or convention, to the thing it represents: for instance, the crucifix is the main symbol of Christianity, and the scepter is a traditional symbol of royal power.

A symbol can also be a more or less conventional image (i.e. an icon), or a detail of an image, or even a pattern or color: for example, the olive branch in heraldry represents peace, the halo is a conventional symbol of sainthood in Christian imagery, tartans are symbols of Scottish clans, and the color red is often used as a symbol for socialist movements, especially communism.

More often, a symbol is a conventional written or printed sign (specifically, a glyph), usually standing for anything other than a sound (symbols for sounds are usually called graphemes, letters, logograms, diacritics, etc.). Thus mathematical symbols such as π and + represent quantities and operations, currency symbols represent monetary units, chemical symbols represent elements, and so forth.

Symbols can also be immaterial entities like sounds, words and gestures. The ringing of gongs and bells, and the banging of a judge's gavel , often have conventional meanings in certain contexts; and bowing is a common way to indicate respect. In fact, every word in a natural language is a symbol for some concept or relationship between concepts.

A symbol is usually recognized only within some specific culture, religion, or discipline, but a few hundred symbols are now recognized internationally. See list of common symbols and List of symbols.

Use of symbols

It is human beings' ability to manipulate symbols that allows them to explore the relationships between ideas, things, concepts, and qualities - far beyond the explorations of which any other species on earth is capable. The discipline of semiotics studies symbols and symbol systems in general; semantics is specifically concerned with the main meaning of words.

Literary works are often admired for their artful use of symbolism, i.e. the use of words, phrases and situations to evoke ideas and feelings beyond their plain interpretations; these uses are the subject of literary semiotics. Religious and metaphysical writings are also known for their use of esoteric symbolism. Alchemical writings made extensive use of symbols for spiritual and chemical processes (which they also saw as symbols of each other). The interpretation of dreams as symbols of one's experiences is a main feature of Freudian psychoanalysis and Jungian analytical psychology.


The word "symbol" came to the English language, by way of Middle English, Old French, and Latin, from the Greek σύμβολον súmbolon from the root words σύμ- (sym-) meaning "together" and βολή bolḗ "a throw", having the approximate meaning of "to throw together", so "sign, ticket, or contract".

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External links

Symbol search engine http://www.symbols.com

Last updated: 02-05-2005 10:12:33