in·​di·​ca·​tor | \ ˈin-də-ˌkā-tər \

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

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Other Words from indicator

indicatory \ in-​ˈdi-​kə-​ˌtȯr-​ē \ adjective

Synonyms for indicator


hand, index, needle, pointer

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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

And other recession indicators are at their highest since the last downturn. Justin Lahart, WSJ, "Why the Odds of a Recession Are Rising," 25 Jan. 2019 Though the method sounds quaint, water clarity is actually a strong indicator of the river’s health. Christina Tkacik,, "North Shore's annual 'wade-in' offers a glimpse of Magothy's improving water quality," 11 July 2018 Admissions offices love to see student interest in their school, and a visit is a strong indicator of such interest. Jennifer Fenn Lefferts,, "Summer’s a time to test campuses, too," 5 July 2018 Remember how gender is a strong indicator of anyone’s views on gun control? Ben Wofford, Glamour, "The NRA's Most Wanted Customer: Women," 28 June 2018 Deep inside the report were other strong indicators that the nation's economy is on the upswing. Fox News, "Trump crows as rosy jobs report underscores booming economy," 1 June 2018 The results represent a stunning rebuke of two sitting congressmen and a strong indicator that the anti-establishment sentiment remains strong among Hoosier Republicans who helped catapult Donald Trump into the White House two years ago. Maureen Groppe, Indianapolis Star, "Indiana Senate race: Mike Braun wins GOP primary in huge upset over 2 sitting congressmen," 8 May 2018 Race is also a strong indicator of whether a child is likely to experience ACEs. Mimi Kirk, The Atlantic, "What Kids' Trauma Looks Like Across the U.S.," 27 Feb. 2018 Changes in your menstrual cycle are the hallmark indicator that your body is nearing menopause. Amy Marturana, SELF, "12 Causes of Spotting and Breakthrough Bleeding," 28 Dec. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of indicator

1666, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for indicator

Last Updated

6 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for indicator

The first known use of indicator was in 1666

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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 \

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 \

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

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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).


irregularly rounded

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