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

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Other Words from indicator

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

Critics have noted that neither the Lion Air nor the Ethiopian Airlines pilots had any indicators on their cockpit displays to tell them the readings from the jet’s two angle of attack sensors. Dominic Gates, The Seattle Times, "Boeing defends 737 MAX’s cockpit add-ons, begins new pilot information sessions," 26 Mar. 2019 Some indicators, including the survey of a self-selecting group of members of the American Association of Individual Investors, show more bears than bulls, although gloom is not as deep as at the worst points of 2010, 2013 or 2016. James Mackintosh, WSJ, "Markets Corrected Investor Mistakes This Year, And it Hurts," 20 Dec. 2018 Brandon Finnegan, who runs Decision Desk HQ, pointed to two counties — Harrison and Rankin — as good indicators of whether Espy is eroding the Republican advantage in these suburban areas. Dylan Scott, Vox, "The odds are against Mike Espy in a Senate runoff election. But here’s his path to an upset win.," 27 Nov. 2018 This far out, having 1,000 season tickets already in is a good indicator of what’s coming. Shawn Mcfarland,, "Pro Soccer Team Announced For Hartford, Set To Begin Play In 2019 At Dillon Stadium," 11 July 2018 Still, the survey found some worrisome indicators of issues potentially ahead: ■ The uninsured rate rose among ‘‘not poor’’ adults. Ricardo Alonso-zaldivar,, "Americans cling to Obama-era health coverage, despite political drama," 22 May 2018 Other surveys have found high approval for Trump’s handling of the economy, which historically is a good indicator of overall satisfaction with a president’s performance. Chronicle Staff Report, San Francisco Chronicle, "Trump’s rising popularity is bad news for Dems in California House races," 22 May 2018 Some indicators are pointing up, some down and some sideways. Jack Ewing, New York Times, "With Eurozone Economy Wavering, E.C.B. Leaves Policy Unchanged," 25 Apr. 2018 Texture is a good indicator as well: The outsides should be crispy, with just a bit of give. Alex Delany, Bon Appetit, "How to Make Croutons and Put Them on EVERYTHING," 23 Apr. 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

17 Apr 2019

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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 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

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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).


likely to have or produce good results

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