Although a variety of symbols have been used for peace, none is more familiar to modern civilizations as the peace symbol designed by artist Gerald Holtom for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in 1958.

Holtom was inspired by flag semaphore used for communication at sea using signalmen holding flags. Modern semaphore include signals for each letter of the alphabet. Holtom used the signals for “N” (Nuclear) and “D” (Disarmament) and juxtaposed them over a circle to create the modern symbol for peace.

Semaphore November

Semaphore Delta

Original Holtom sketch, 1958 (Commonweal Collection, University of Bradford)


Christian comic author Jack Chick wrote that the sign is meant to represent a broken cross and a denunciation of Jesus Christ in his The Broken Cross pamphlet.