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noun symp·tom \ˈsim(p)-təm\

Simple Definition of symptom

  • : a change in the body or mind which indicates that a disease is present

  • : a change which shows that something bad exists : a sign of something bad

Full Definition of symptom

  1. 1a :  subjective evidence of disease or physical disturbance; broadly :  something that indicates the presence of bodily disorderb :  an evident reaction by a plant to a pathogen

  2. 2a :  something that indicates the existence of something else <symptoms of an inner turmoil>b :  a slight indication :  trace

symp·tom·less play \-ləs\ adjective

Origin of symptom

Late Latin symptomat-, symptoma, from Greek symptōmat-, symptōma happening, attribute, symptom, from sympiptein to happen, from syn- + piptein to fall — more at feather

First Known Use: 1541

Synonym Discussion of symptom

sign, mark, token, note, symptom mean a discernible indication of what is not itself directly perceptible. sign applies to any indication to be perceived by the senses or the reason <encouraging signs for the economy>. mark suggests something impressed on or inherently characteristic of a thing often in contrast to general outward appearance <a mark of a good upbringing>. token applies to something that serves as a proof of something intangible <this gift is a token of our esteem>. note suggests a distinguishing mark or characteristic <a note of irony in her writing>. symptom suggests an outward indication of an internal change or condition <rampant crime is a symptom of that city's decay>.

SYMPTOM Defined for Kids


noun symp·tom \ˈsimp-təm\

Definition of symptom

  1. 1 :  a noticeable change in the body or its functions that indicates the presence of a disease or other disorder

  2. 2 :  indication 2, sign <Loss of jobs is a symptom of a weakening economy.>

Medical Dictionary


noun symp·tom \ˈsim(p)-təm\

Medical Definition of symptom

  1. :  subjective evidence of disease or physical disturbance observed by the patient <headache is a symptom of many diseases> <visual disturbances may be a symptom of retinal arteriosclerosis>; broadly :  something that indicates the presence of a physical disorder—compare sign 2

Seen and Heard

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


February 13, 2016

a trying or distressing experience

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