\ˈsīn \

Definition of sign 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a motion or gesture by which a thought is expressed or a command or wish made known

b : signal sense 2a

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

4a(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

5a : 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 : signboard

6a : 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


signed; signing; signs

Definition of sign (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : cross sense 2

b : to place a sign on or mark by signs sign a trail

c : to represent or indicate by a sign

2a : 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

2a : to make a sign or signal

b : to use sign language

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Other Words from sign


signee \ ˌsī-​ˈnē \ noun
signer \ ˈsī-​nər \ noun

Synonyms for sign

Synonyms: Noun

gesticulation, gesture, mime, pantomime, signal

Synonyms: Verb

autograph, ink, subscribe

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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


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.


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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In addition to teaming up with marquee actresses and directors, Apple has also recruited executives with industry clout — clear signs, according to Cryan, that Apple is serious about going toe-to-toe with prestigious production companies. Daniel Arkin /, NBC News, "Apple's script for conquering Hollywood is a mystery so far," 13 July 2018 The Shangchen finds are sure to encourage other researchers to hunt for further signs of hominins living in Eurasia before 2 million years ago, says Kappelman. Colin Barras, Scientific American, "Tools from China are Oldest Hint of Human Lineage Outside Africa," 11 July 2018 Helicopters, police Jeeps and search parties scoured the area looking for signs of O’Keefe. Meagan Flynn, Washington Post, "‘My killer was never found’: Police live tweet a murdered girl’s last day alive in 1973," 9 July 2018 Reporters and camera crews are staking out the homes of the four finalists, looking for any sign of movement toward an airport, or, in Kavanaugh's case, toward the White House. David Jackson, USA TODAY, "President Trump saves Supreme Court announcement for prime time," 9 July 2018 The fire department left the scene at about 1:30 p.m. and instructed the property owner to keep an eye out for any more signs of a fire. Henry J. Morgan, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Silo fire temporarily closes Wern Way in Genesee," 6 July 2018 Health officials regularly test the region’s mosquitoes for signs of West Nile virus, Zika and other illnesses that can be carried from person to person through the pest’s bite. Scott Dance,, "Dealing with more bug bites than usual? Mosquitos are at 3 times their normal number in Maryland this summer.," 5 July 2018 The two men found a higher vantage point when Kendall volunteered to hike around the area for any sign of civilization. Perry Vandell, azcentral, "Pilot: 'It was completely quiet' before crash landing," 4 July 2018 Home inspections are done to check for signs of structural damage or specific things, which need to be repaired. Dottie Herman, Time, "Everything You Need to Know About Buying Your First Home," 3 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In 1996, President Bill Clinton signed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), another law designed to protect patient privacy and protect the confidentiality of health information. Melissa Stein, STAT, "Privacy laws are hurting the care of patients with addiction," 13 July 2018 And fans agreed, with hundreds of thousands of people signing a petition to keep the sitcom on the air. Megan Friedman, Country Living, "How ‘Last Man Standing’ Went From Hit Sitcom, to Canceled, to Revived For Its Seventh Season," 11 July 2018 Older adults may sign-up at the Senior Center a week prior to the event. Courant Community, "Community News For The Colchester Edition," 10 July 2018 Kennedy signed both bills in 1963, not long before his death. Alice George, Smithsonian, "For 50 Years, the Special Olympics Has Given Marginalized Superstars Center Stage," 10 July 2018 County Executive Allan Kittleman signed an executive order to establish a county Opioid Crisis Community Council. Jess Nocera, Howard County Times, "Fatal overdoses down in Howard County from last year," 10 July 2018 A few dozen people have signed the petition so far. John Greenfield, Chicago Reader, "So long Ofo: Bike-share company is leaving Chicago because of lock requirements," 9 July 2018 Read more stories about how the stars influence your dating life: Now watch to learn which sign your sign should date: Don't forget to follow Allure on Instagram and Twitter. Sophie Saint Thomas, Allure, "What Your Zodiac Sign Says About Your Online Dating Style," 6 July 2018 Other units, however, have been made in Taiwan, and signed accordingly, which may or may not have an effect on their quality of manufacture and durability. Vlad Savov, The Verge, "Audio-Technica R70x review: the definition of neutral headphones," 6 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sign.' 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 sign


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


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

History and Etymology for sign


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


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

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Learn More about sign

Statistics for sign

Last Updated

3 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sign

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

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More Definitions for sign



English Language Learners Definition of sign

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a piece of paper, wood, etc., with words or pictures on it that gives information about something

: something (such as an action or event) which shows that something else exists, is true, or will happen

: a motion, action, or movement that you use to express a thought, command, or wish



English Language Learners Definition of sign (Entry 2 of 2)

: to write (your name) on something

: to write your name on (something) especially to show that you accept, agree with, or will be responsible for something

: to hire (someone) to do something especially by having that person sign a contract


\ˈsīn \

Kids Definition of sign

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a motion, action, or movement of the hand that means something The teacher made a sign for them to be quiet.

2 : a public notice that advertises something or gives information a stop sign

3 : something that indicates what is present or is to come the first signs of spring

4 : a symbol (as + or ÷) indicating a mathematical operation

5 : one of the twelve parts of the zodiac


signed; signing

Kids Definition of sign (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to put a signature on to show acceptance, agreement, or responsibility His boss signed the order form.

2 : to communicate by using sign language

3 : to represent or show by a motion, action, or movement

4 : to make or place a sign on

sign up

: to sign someone's name in order to get, do, or take something I signed up to go.


\ˈsīn \

Medical Definition of sign 

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

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Legal Definition of sign 

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

Other Words from sign

signer noun

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Comments on sign

What made you want to look up sign? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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