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

b(1) : gauge sense 2b, dial sense 4a

(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)

b : tracer sense 4b

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

That’s another indicator that tomatoes do not need direct sun exposure for ripening. Margaret Lauterbach, idahostatesman, "Keeping our roses sweet requires a vigilant fight against bacterial cane blight," 29 June 2018 According to a 2014 report by Portland State University and the local Coalition of Communities of Color, blacks in Multnomah County, which includes Portland, lagged behind whites in key economic and social indicators. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "In Portland, a neighborhood designs its own solution to displacement," 26 June 2018 Economic factors may be lurking behind both indicators here. Christopher Ingraham,, "More money, more fitness: Why people in the wealthiest states get more exercise," 5 July 2018 Only Spain and Greece, whose economies have been ravaged by the euro-zone crisis, have more households earning less than half the nation’s median income — an indicator that unusually large numbers of people either are poor or close to being poor. Andrew Van Dam,, "The economy is hot, yet many U.S. workers feel left behind. A new report sheds some light," 5 July 2018 For all the latest storylines, opinion polls and economic indicators visit our special page in English or Spanish. Caroline Alexander,, "A Retirement, a Failed Coup and a Taboo: Weekend Reads," 30 June 2018 The driver and passenger exhibited several indicators leading Chism to believe they were involved in criminal activity. Karen Huppertz, ajc, "Snellville officer given national award for record MDMA bust," 13 July 2018 Using Kikkoman soy sauce was the fifth-most-likely indicator at 59%. Don Reisinger, Fortune, "Here Are the Best Indicators of Whether You're Rich," 9 July 2018 In addition to an admissions test, TJ has tried using various factors, including teacher recommendations, diversity goals, and indicators of passion for math and science, Ms. Kahn notes. Harry Bruinius, The Christian Science Monitor, "'Keep the test!' A debate flares over exam-based public high schools.," 6 July 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

16 Oct 2018

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).


to reject or criticize sharply

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