in·​di·​ca·​tor | \ ˈin-də-ˌkā-tər How to pronounce indicator (audio) \

Definition of indicator

1 : one that indicates: such as
a : an index hand (as on a dial) : pointer
(2) : an instrument for automatically making a diagram that indicates the pressure in and volume of the working fluid of an engine throughout the cycle
2a : a substance (such as litmus) used to show visually (as by change of color) the condition of a solution with respect to the presence of a particular material (such as a free acid or alkali)
3 : an organism or ecological community so strictly associated with particular environmental conditions that its presence is indicative of the existence of these conditions
4 : any of a group of statistical values (such as level of employment) that taken together give an indication of the health of the economy

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from indicator

indicatory \ in-​ˈdi-​kə-​ˌtȯr-​ē How to pronounce indicatory (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for indicator


hand, index, needle, pointer

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of indicator in a Sentence

Economic indicators suggest that prices will go up. a control panel with various indicator lights

Recent Examples on the Web

Manufacturing indicators have weakened for all three in recent months, and vehicle sales have been particularly bad in India and China. Washington Post, "Oil’s 2019 Weakness Has Roots in 2018’s Strength," 18 Sep. 2019 Now Wall Street analysts are trying to weigh early consumer demand for the devices, a key indicator of the company's future financial results and stock performance. Don Reisinger, Fortune, "Apple Analysts Give the Bull and Bear Cases For iPhone 11 Demand," 16 Sep. 2019 The election Sunday was the second free presidential vote in the country’s history, and a useful indicator of the state of its democratic transition. Ben Hubbard, New York Times, "Tunisia Votes for a President as It Struggles to Build Democracy," 15 Sep. 2019 That’s a good indicator that the whales are nearby. Scott Mcmurren, Anchorage Daily News, "Isn’t it about time you took a trip to Southeast Alaska?," 14 Sep. 2019 And all these numbers are mere half-indicators of how reliable he’s been, rarely one to crumble under the pressures of a four-out save or game-threatening moment. Shayna Rubin, The Mercury News, "Oakland Athletics’ closer Liam Hendriks nominated for Roberto Clemente Award, nears major milestones," 12 Sep. 2019 Two-wheeler sales—a key indicator of demand from rural India—fell 22% year-on-year in August, according to SIAM. Niharika Sharma, Quartz India, "No, finance minister. Indian millennials are not to blame for the automobile slowdown," 11 Sep. 2019 The game was watched by 22 million viewers on NBC.(Tannen Maury / EPA-EFE / Rex / Shutter) The NFL and its TV partners received an early indicator Thursday that last year’s ratings comeback was real. Los Angeles Times, "NFL and its TV partners are hoping to score more ratings increases," 6 Sep. 2019 First games often are poor indicators of a season for anybody. oregonlive, "Why the Oregon Ducks’ Week 1 loss to Auburn matters more than it should: Issues & Answers," 6 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'indicator.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of indicator

1666, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about indicator

Statistics for indicator

Last Updated

16 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for indicator

The first known use of indicator was in 1666

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for indicator



English Language Learners Definition of indicator

: a sign that shows the condition or existence of something
: a pointer or light that shows the state or condition of something
: a device that shows a measurement


in·​di·​ca·​tor | \ ˈin-də-ˌkā-tər How to pronounce indicator (audio) \

Kids Definition of indicator

1 : a sign that shows or suggests the condition or existence of something
2 : a pointer on a dial or scale


in·​di·​ca·​tor | \ ˈin-də-ˌkāt-ər How to pronounce indicator (audio) \

Medical Definition of indicator

: a substance (as a dye) used to show visually (as by a change in color) the condition of a solution with respect to the presence of a particular material (as a free acid or alkali) litmus and phenolphthalein are acid-base indicators

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on indicator

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


to be made up of

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Where in the World? A Quiz

  • peter bruegel tower of babel painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!