Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


adjective sig·nif·i·cant \sig-ˈni-fi-kənt\

Simple Definition of significant

  • : large enough to be noticed or have an effect

  • : very important

  • : having a special or hidden meaning

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of significant

  1. 1 :  having meaning; especially :  suggestive <a significant glance>

  2. 2a :  having or likely to have influence or effect :  important <a significant piece of legislation>; also :  of a noticeably or measurably large amount <a significant number of layoffs> <producing significant profits>b :  probably caused by something other than mere chance <statistically significant correlation between vitamin deficiency and disease>

Examples of significant in a sentence

  1. Historians of ancient gender have seen this as crucially significant. Women in antiquity were by definition so disempowered that the authority of a new female ruler could only be captured by representing her in the guise of a man. Or so the argument goes. —Mary Beard, New York Review of Books, 12 Feb. 2009

  2. While Congress will take a significant role in designing new regulation and is not likely to rubber-stamp the administration's proposals, momentum is strong for the creation of comprehensive financial reform. —Marc I. Seltzer et al., Commonweal, 19 June 2009

  3. A new study on women and the media from the University of Missouri-Columbia shows that overweight women and women with eating disorders are not the only ones negatively affected by unrealistic advertisements (as previous studies have indicated). After viewing images of models, women of all sizes reported a significant decrease in satisfaction with their weight, hair, physical shape and sexual attractiveness. —Ms., Summer 2007

  4. One of [Charles] Darwin's most extraordinary qualities was his ability to recognize when a scientific question could not be answered because of the limitations of the science of his day. He knew, for instance, that during his lifetime, no significant progress would be made on the question of how life began. —Amy Stewart, Wilson Quarterly, Winter 2004

  5. A significant number of customers complained about the service.

  6. He won a significant amount of money.

  7. There is a significant difference in prices between the two stores.

  8. The study found a statistically significant decrease in symptoms in patients who had taken the drug.

  9. a significant event in the history of our nation

  10. Fish is a significant part of their diet.

  11. It is significant that she never mentioned him.

  12. He gave us a significant wink.

Origin of significant

Latin significant-, significans, present participle of significare to signify

First Known Use: 1579

SIGNIFICANT Defined for Kids


adjective sig·nif·i·cant \sig-ˈni-fi-kənt\

Definition of significant for Students

  1. 1 :  having a special or hidden meaning <The teacher gave them a significant smile.>

  2. 2 :  important 1 <These changes are significant.>

  3. 3 :  large enough to be noticed <He donated a significant amount of money.>

Medical Dictionary


adjective sig·nif·i·cant \sig-ˈnif-i-kənt\

Medical Definition of significant

  1. :  probably caused by something other than mere chance <a statistically significant correlation between diet and disease>

significantly adverb

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up significant? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


deserving imitation because of excellence

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of these is a synonym of nonplus?

soothe reduce disapprove perplex
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.