sign

1 of 2

noun

1
a
: a motion or gesture by which a thought is expressed or a command or wish made known
c
: a fundamental linguistic unit that designates an object or relation or has a purely syntactic function
signs include words, morphemes, and punctuation
d
: one of a set of gestures used to represent language
also : sign language
2
: a mark having a conventional meaning and used in place of words or to represent a complex notion
3
: one of the 12 divisions of the zodiac
4
a(1)
: a character (such as a flat or sharp) used in musical notation
(2)
: segno
b
: a character (such as ÷) indicating a mathematical operation
also : one of two characters + and − that form part of the symbol of a number and characterize it as positive or negative
5
a
: a display (such as a lettered board or a configuration of neon tubing) used to identify or advertise a place of business or a product
b
: a posted command, warning, or direction
c
6
a
: something material or external that stands for or signifies something spiritual
b
: something indicating the presence or existence of something else
signs of success
a sign of the times
c
: presage, portent
signs of an early spring
d
: an objective evidence of plant or animal disease
7
plural usually sign : traces of a usually wild animal
red fox sign

sign

2 of 2

verb

signed; signing; signs

transitive verb

1
b
: to place a sign on or mark by signs
sign a trail
c
: to represent or indicate by a sign
2
a
: to affix a signature to : ratify or attest by hand or seal
sign a bill into law
sign a confession
b
: to assign or convey formally
signed over his property to his brother
c
: to write down (one's name)
d
: to affix one's name to
a signed review
3
: to communicate by making a sign or by sign language
4
: to engage or hire by securing the signature of on a contract of employment
often used with up or on

intransitive verb

1
: to write one's name in token of assent, responsibility, or obligation
signed for the packages
signed with the team for one season
2
a
: to make a sign or signal
b
: to use sign language
signee noun
signer noun
Choose the Right Synonym for sign

sign, mark, token, note, symptom mean a discernible indication of what is not itself directly perceptible.

sign applies to any indication to be perceived by the senses or the reason.

encouraging signs for the economy

mark suggests something impressed on or inherently characteristic of a thing often in contrast to general outward appearance.

a mark of a good upbringing

token applies to something that serves as a proof of something intangible.

this gift is a token of our esteem

note suggests a distinguishing mark or characteristic.

a note of irony in her writing

symptom suggests an outward indication of an internal change or condition.

rampant crime is a symptom of that city's decay

Examples of sign in a Sentence

Noun The sign in the store window says “OPEN.” After you get off the highway, follow the signs for Route 25. He ran the stop sign. There was a “For Sale” sign on the car. All the signs point to him as the guilty party. She ignored me, which was a sure sign that she was mad at me. “The company called me in for a second interview.” “That's a good sign.” It was a bad sign that he couldn't walk on the injured leg. There are plenty of warning signs that the company is in danger of bankruptcy. They bowed before the king as a sign of respect. Verb Sign your name on the bottom line. She met with fans and signed autographs. Please sign at the bottom of the application. You forgot to sign the document. He was forced to sign the confession. The contract was signed by both parties. The author will be signing copies of his books today. The contract should be signed, sealed, and delivered by tomorrow. The team signed the pitcher to a three-year contract. He is signed to a three-year contract. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Best Ulta Beauty Cyber Monday Perfume Deals Ulta Beauty is pumping out fragrant savings with no sign of stopping. Sarah Hoffmann, Allure, 27 Nov. 2023 Past a red-and-blue neon sign, some old-timey pastoral paintings, and a dining room of people quietly spooning up borscht and mushroom barley, a pair of double doors opened to reveal about a hundred people stamping and shimmying. Naaman Zhou, The New Yorker, 27 Nov. 2023 But the lawsuit is the first sign that Tesla’s business in Sweden—its fifth largest European market—has been affected by the blockade. Morgan Meaker, WIRED, 27 Nov. 2023 Wedged in between, Innit's seven beach houses are the only signs of life. Chris Schalkx, Condé Nast Traveler, 27 Nov. 2023 Lake Men’s Poplin Pajama Set Lake Pima Long-Long Weekend Set Rifle Paper Co. Take this as your sign to go ham on Rifle Paper Co.'s ridiculously cute holiday decor and paper goods. Malia Griggs, Glamour, 27 Nov. 2023 The return-to-office debates show no sign of abating. Bysteve Mollman, Fortune, 26 Nov. 2023 Therefore, having weak and brittle nails, can definitely be a sign of a nutrient deficiency. Christina Pérez, Vogue, 25 Nov. 2023 Investors will be watching what is typically one of the busiest shopping days of the year for signs that U.S. households are potentially growing more cautious on spending. Chelsey Dulaney, WSJ, 24 Nov. 2023
Verb
Guy Fieri has signed a new three-year deal with Food Network, which sources tell Variety is valued at more than $100 million. Jennifer Maas, Variety, 28 Nov. 2023 And over 24 countries, including Singapore, Qatar, and France, have signed agreements to facilitate transactions across borders. Emilien Coquard, Forbes, 28 Nov. 2023 Almost immediately after its passage, nearly 30 state Republicans signed a letter saying that the constitutional amendment does not repeal any existing Ohio law. Shawna Mizelle, CBS News, 28 Nov. 2023 In addition to collaborations with Chinese companies, G42 has also signed agreements with American companies including Microsoft and Dell Technologies. Edward Wong, New York Times, 27 Nov. 2023 In late October, a number of A-listers — Joaquin Phoenix, Cate Blanchett, Drake, Ben Affleck, Channing Tatum, Andrew Garfield, Florence Pugh, Dua Lipa, Kristen Stewart, Tom Hardy, Jennifer Lopez, and Jon Stewart among them — signed an open letter to President Biden calling for a ceasefire. Marlow Stern, Rolling Stone, 26 Nov. 2023 It was signed by then South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in 2018 during a brief reconciliatory mood between the two Koreas. Joohee Cho, ABC News, 26 Nov. 2023 With the letter of intent signed, Dutcher can finally speak publicly about the under-the-radar prospect who orally committed a month ago. Mark Zeigler, San Diego Union-Tribune, 16 Nov. 2023 More and more, though, employers are requiring regular workers to sign those deals. Maysoon Khan, Fortune, 16 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'sign.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English signe, from Anglo-French, from Latin signum mark, token, sign, image, seal; perhaps akin to Latin secare to cut — more at saw

Verb

Middle English, from Anglo-French signer, from Latin signare to mark, sign, seal, from signum

First Known Use

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of sign was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near sign

Cite this Entry

“Sign.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sign. Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition

sign

1 of 2 noun
1
a
: a motion, action, or movement of the hand by which a thought is expressed or a command or wish made known
made a sign for them to be quiet
2
: a mark having a generally understood meaning and used in place of words
3
: one of the 12 parts of the zodiac
4
a
: a symbol (as a flat or sharp) used in musical notation
b
: a symbol (as ÷ or √‾) indicating a mathematical operation
also : one of two symbols + and − characterizing a number as positive or negative
5
: a public notice that advertises something or gives information
6
a
: something that indicates what is present or is to come
no sign of life
first signs of spring
b
: something that provides evidence of plant or animal disease

sign

2 of 2 verb
1
a
: to make or place a sign on
b
: to represent or indicate by a sign
2
: to write one's name on to show that one accepts, agrees with, or is responsible for
sign a check
sign a letter
sign a contract
3
: to hire by getting to sign something (as a contract)
sign a new ball player
4
: to use sign language
signee noun
signer noun
Etymology

Noun

Middle English signe "a gesture that conveys a thought or command," from early French signe (same meaning), from Latin signum "mark, sign, image" — related to designate, seal entry 3, signal entry 1, significant

Medical Definition

sign

noun
1
: one of a set of gestures used to represent language
2
: an objective evidence of disease especially as observed and interpreted by the physician rather than by the patient or lay observer
narrow retinal vessels are a sign of arteriosclerosis
see brudzinski sign, chvostek's sign, homans' sign, kernig sign, physical sign, placental sign, romberg's sign, tinel's sign, vital signs, von graefe's sign compare symptom

Legal Definition

sign

transitive verb
1
: to affix a signature to : ratify or attest by hand or seal
sign a bill into law
specifically : to write or mark something (as a signature) on (a document) as an acknowledgment of one's intention to be bound by it
2
: to assign or convey formally
signed the property over to his brother
signer noun

More from Merriam-Webster on sign

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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