What Is the Symbolism of a Square?

By: Alyssa Miller | Last updated: Feb 02, 2024

Squares have long been a foundational shape in almost every aspect of human life since it was first discovered. While much has changed in the way humans create and solve problems, the square has always been essential to creating reliable end results.

But the square is more than a square. It can represent so much more than one thing. What is the symbolism of a square? Let’s get into it!

What Is a Square?

According to CueMath, “a square is a closed two-dimensional shape (2D shape) with four sides.” Each of the four sides of the square is equal in size and is parallel to each other. The equal sides and interior angles are equal to 90°.

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The Radius of the Square on a grey static background

Source: zeevveez/Flickr

Many things take the shape of a square. Looking around your current environment, you can find objects with four equal sides.

Square Shape Things

If you want some help finding square-shaped things around you, let’s break down the most common places to find the popular shape. Windows, boxes, and record albums are commonly square-shaped.

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A Rubik's Cube on a white background

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Chess boards, craft papers, bread slices, and pizza boxes are also everyday objects that take the shape of a square. Since it is a common shape that easily supports itself, it is an easy shape to make objects. The room you are in might just be a square.

Square Meaning

The meaning of a square changes depending on the circumstances. Sometimes, old towns will have an open area for meetings. These places are called “town squares”.” Even if they are not shaped exactly like a square, they are commonly referred to as a square.

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Source: Marco Verch/Flickr

Another example of being a square is when you settle your debts. However, there are many more meanings that the word square has taken on over the centuries, but it symbolizes much more.

What Does a Square Symbolize?

The symbolism of squares can be quite literal. The symbolism of a square typically comes from the basic shape and design of the shape. The square is often a symbol of sturdiness, as all four sides of the shape equally support each other.

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Abstract art of purple squares

Source: GetArchive

WikiHow discovered that numerologists categorize the square as foundational, its four points represent strength, and that most religions observe the square as a symbol of divinity. In design and architecture, the square is closely related to ideas of community and equality.

What Does a Square Represent?

While the square is a symbol of strength, the foundational shape can represent so much. The shape is a perfect balance between four points, which many believe represent the full sets of four in nature that depend on each other: the four cardinal directions, the four elements, the four seasons, and the four phases of life.

Source: James Wheeler/Pexels

Overall, the square represents stability and dependence. So if you see a square in your dreams, don’t panic! The sign is normally there to tell you that things are going well and that you have nothing to fear.

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What Does It Mean to Be a Square?

While a square is about the natural order of things, being called a square feels like an insult. That’s because it can be. The 1940s slang term originated with the American jazz community and reference people who are out of touch with musical trends (via Oxford English Dictionary).

Multi-colored Squares preforming on a stage

Source: Buzzco Associates/Facebook

When someone says, “Don’t be a square,” they could also be referring to you not being around. It is a clever play on words that often aren’t recognized.

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Squared up Meaning

Squared up has a simple meaning, but can be used in many different ways. According to Merriam-Webster, squared up means “to turn so that one is facing something or someone directly.” This term can be used literally to turn something toward you or to fight someone.

A man in a red shirt squaring up

Source: Know Your Meme

Most people associate “squared up” or “square up” with “to fight.” Think of the term as the new “on guard” that characters would use when sword fighting in movies or television shows.

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Circle in a Square Meaning

A square with a circle outside a symbol is simple geometry that has no important or influential meaning in Western culture. But “squaring the circle” commonly refers to creating a square of the same area as a given circle, using a finite number of steps and using a compass and a straightedge as your only tools.

A circle in a square

Source: Wikimedia Commons

However, the Eruditorum Press found some meaning for the Circle in the Square that is often seen in “Doctor Who.” The symbol can represent a “union of opposites.”

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Squares in Sacred Geometry

The symbol of a square has become the foundation of all physical spaces. For example, the pyramid is one of the holiest structures according to sacred geometry, which is an ancient science that gives symbolic and sacred meaning to geometric shapes and certain geometric proportions (via Destination Deluxe).

The Pyramids in Giza at dusk

Source: Shellapick76/World History Encyclopedia

The foundation of a pyramid is a square. The founded, safe, stable, and supportive nature of a square makes it the ideal foundation for almost all shapes, even numbers (the concept of “squared” numbers in numerology).

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Who Discovered the Square? 

According to Research Outreach, the square’s discovery was credited to the Babylonians and Greeks. Through the discovery of Heron’s method, the precursor of Newton’s iterative method, the square became a foundational shape for all of math.

Babylonians of a bird man in stone

Source: Charles Tilford/Flickr

Some believe that Indian mathematicians used a similar system around 8000 BC, and the Egyptians had been calculating the square roots of mathematical problems as far back as 1650 BC.

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Facts About Squares

Here are some interesting facts about one of the most popular shapes to exist. A square is also considered to be a rectangle with equal sides. However, a rectangle can never be a square. A square is also a rhombus with right angles.

The Painted Ladies in San Francisco

Source: Freerang Stock/Unsplash

The area of a square is equal to the length of one side to the power of two, and the perimeter of a square is four times the length of one side (since all the sides are equal).

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