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
2 : any of a group of statistical values (such as level of employment) that taken together give an indication of the health of the economy
3a : 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)
4 : an organism or ecological community so strictly associated with particular environmental conditions that its presence is indicative of the existence of these conditions

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Other Words from indicator

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

Synonyms for indicator


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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 Twenty-two turnovers and 5-for-16 from the line are decent indicators of a general lack of concentration and urgency. Paul Daugherty,, "Doc's Morning Line: Don't use racial slurs in any context. Is it really that hard?," 17 Feb. 2020 The smile stretched across her face Friday was a good indicator on how things went. Dallas News, "UIL swimming championships: Southlake Carroll’s Kit Kat Zenick sets record in 50-yard freestyle, Dallas ISD athletes make splash in prelims," 15 Feb. 2020 The company said the issue involves an indicator light staying on longer than intended. Chris Isidore, CNN, "A new software glitch was discovered on Boeing's 737 Max," 6 Feb. 2020 Sand crabs eat by filtering small particles from the water and are considered in indicator species as their health can give signs about the well-being of the ecosystem. oregonlive, "Microplastics are harming sand crabs on the Oregon coast, PSU researcher finds," 31 Jan. 2020 The store has some 700 parking spots with overhead indicator lights pointing drivers toward open and handicap spots. Paul Takahashi, Houston Chronicle, "Sneak Peek: H-E-B store opening in Meyerland," 27 Jan. 2020 Without a doubt, the presence or absence of mayflies and stoneflies in a stream is a reliable indicator of the quality of its water. Boris Kondratieff, The Conversation, "Stoneflies and mayflies, canaries of our streams," 22 Jan. 2020 The other devices Microsoft and its partners are launching—including low-cost PCs from Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Huawei—include features like easy-to-read indicator lights showing the teacher that the device is up and running. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Windows PCs push back against Chromebooks in schools with LTE, Gemini Lake Refresh chips," 16 Jan. 2020 The streamlined tracker won’t display the time or exact step count, but instead uses a series of indicator lights to give you a basic overview of your daily activity. Braelyn Wood,, "Tons of Cyber Monday Fitbit Deals Are Live Right Now," 2 Dec. 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.

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First Known Use of indicator

1666, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for indicator

Time Traveler

The first known use of indicator was in 1666

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Statistics for indicator

Last Updated

20 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Indicator.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2020.

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How to pronounce indicator (audio)

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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