An icon is a representation of an object or person . The term can also be used figuratively to allude to a type of element that represents a particular circumstance or fact. Icons can be considered, in a certain way, signs that communicate information to a receiver, and this information associates the represented to the representative. Currently, they are evoked especially to explain the representation of programs in an operating system with a graphical interface; thus, icons are pictures that refer to the action of a certain program.
A correct definition of icon can be given through the considerations of Charles Sanders Peirce. This philosopher from the United States set out to analyze the ways in which human perception attributed meanings to different elements. Thus, he managed to carry out a classification of the signs used by man to interpret realitysurrounding. In this, the icon is characterized by establishing a logical relationship between the signifier and the signified, and it is far from being completely arbitrary. In fact, if an icon maintains a kind of kinship between the representative and the represented, or if it somehow reminds it of some kind of similarity, it is easy to understand that the relationship can be understood even though the sign is seen or perceived for the first time.
This kind of resemblance can obviously be seen in so-called religious icons. This explains the image of a saint that most people know. In this case, the saint is recognized for having specific characteristics and for being accompanied by devotees who know his history. In some societies, this type of icon was a reason for great development in painting, which saw through popular piety an opportunity to apply all kinds of plastic dexterity .
As said before, currently, the term refers to the experience that people often have with the graphical interface of operating systems to interact with users. In this case, it was an invention popularized by Microsoft that consists of showing a graphic to refer to a certain program or a type of file. This facility was well received by users, making computer tasks easily understood.