signal

noun
sig·​nal | \ ˈsig-nᵊl How to pronounce signal (audio) \

Definition of signal

 (Entry 1 of 3)

2a : an act, event, or watchword that has been agreed on as the occasion of concerted action
b : something that incites to action
3 : something (such as a sound, gesture, or object) that conveys notice or warning
4a : an object used to transmit or convey information beyond the range of human voice
b : the sound or image conveyed in telegraphy, telephony, radio, radar, or television
c : a detectable physical quantity or impulse (such as a voltage, current, or magnetic field strength) by which messages or information can be transmitted

signal

verb
signaled or signalled; signaling or signalling\ ˈsig-​nə-​liŋ How to pronounce signalling (audio) \

Definition of signal (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to notify by a signal signal the fleet to turn back
2a : to communicate or indicate by or as if by signals signaled the end of an era
b : to constitute a characteristic feature of (a meaningful linguistic form)

intransitive verb

: to make or send a signal

signal

adjective

Definition of signal (Entry 3 of 3)

: distinguished from the ordinary : notable a signal achievement

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Other Words from signal

Verb

signaler or signaller noun

Examples of signal in a Sentence

Noun

He likes her but he is sending the wrong signals with his constant teasing. The teacher gave us the signal to finish what we were working on and hand in our tests. Faulty wiring in the train station caused a signal to malfunction.

Verb

Robins signal the arrival of spring. The election results surely signal the start of a new era. A lock on the suitcase might signal that there's something of value inside. Did he signal before he made the left turn? They signaled at me to come over to their table. He signaled us that it was time to begin the meeting. The umpire signaled a strike.

Adjective

Is he worthy of such a signal honor? the Louisiana Purchase is cited by many historians as one of the most signal events in American history
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

While speeds were impressively in the 400Mbps to 600Mbps range, finding and maintaining a signal was extremely difficult. Michael Simon, PCWorld, "Verizon announces Galaxy S10 5G preorders and 20-city 5G expansion, but it’ll cost you," 25 Apr. 2019 The uniformed maid stood in the hall, awaiting the slightest signal that the wizard was ready for his low-fat lunch. Kennedy Fraser, Vogue, "From the Archives: Karl Lagerfeld, The Impresario," 19 Feb. 2019 Momtchil Pojarliev, deputy head of currencies at BNP Paribas Asset Management, has also become more bullish on the U.S. currency this month, encouraged by cautious signals from global central banks. Ira Iosebashvili, WSJ, "Strong Dollar Casts Shadow Over Stock Market Rally," 12 Feb. 2019 Now, the photons from Alpha Centauri arrive at 112.3 years after the LHC fired—1.7 years after the signal from Earth, which is still superluminal. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Why things can look like they’re moving faster than light," 9 Sep. 2018 Their destination turned out to be Auschwitz: with electric wires around us, with signals from smoking chimneys this may be our last stop. Bryan Marquard, BostonGlobe.com, "Lola Schuss, 96; wrote of experiences surviving four concentration camps," 9 July 2018 Chinese submarines docked at the harbor the same day that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan was visiting Colombo, in what was seen across the region as a menacing signal from Beijing. Maria Abi-habib, New York Times, "How China Got Sri Lanka to Cough Up a Port," 25 June 2018 The threefold jump in ice loss from the continent as a whole is a combination of increased melting of ice from West Antarctica and the Antarctic Peninsula, with a small signal from the ice sheet in East Antarctica. Doyle Rice, USA TODAY, "Global warming has melted over 3 trillion tons of ice in Antarctica since 1992, and it's only getting worse," 13 June 2018 The archetypal image of a baseball umpire originated in Norman Rockwell’s 1948 painting Tough Call, which depicts three signal-callers looking skyward as rain starts to fall during a game. Jared Diamond, WSJ, "The Average Umpire Is Almost 50. The Best Ones Might Be in Their 30s.," 16 Apr. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

One bright spot: Microsoft’s own earnings call signaled that Intel’s manufacturing was back on track, now and in the quarters to come. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Intel CEO Swan says chip shortages will never happen again on his watch," 25 Apr. 2019 In fact, the Supreme Court has signalled its unwillingness to interfere in impeachment proceedings. The Economist, "The case against impeachment," 12 July 2018 The original play call may come in through the helmet, but since the radio is turned off with 15 seconds remaining on the play clock, someone on the sideline can signal in an audible fairly easily. Andy Staples, SI.com, "Like It or Not, College Football Is Influencing the NFL," 12 July 2018 Palm Sunday signals the end of Lent, the 40-day period of fasting and reflection that begins on Ash Wednesday, and kicks off Holy Week, the seven days leading up to Easter. Woman's Day Staff, Woman's Day, "When Is Palm Sunday? Here's Everything You Need to Know," 4 Mar. 2019 If your body is signaling to you that certain running conditions are uncomfortable or even painful, listen to it. Amy Marturana, SELF, "Yes, Your Joints Do Hurt More When It's Cold Out—Here’s Why," 27 Dec. 2018 With expanded mobile operator deals across the globe and sales in T-Mobile stores and support for Verizon in the US, OnePlus as a company is signaling a stronger intent to compete in the mainstream market. Vlad Savov, The Verge, "OnePlus 6T review: revised formula, same results," 29 Oct. 2018 In an extremely adorable moment, Kate Middleton and Queen Elizabeth shared a blanket when arriving to their event at King's College on March 19, signaling the close bond between the royals. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "What Kate Middleton and Queen Elizabeth II's Relationship Is Really Like," 19 Mar. 2019 To some extent that latter piece of news is even more surprising, signaling Microsoft might be relaxing its Windows 10 Store stranglehold for first-party titles. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "Halo: The Master Chief Collection is coming to the PC—and Steam," 12 Mar. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

But over time water intruded into the splice, and suddenly the signal wire was transmitting no signal. C.j. Chivers, Popular Mechanics, "The Best Thing To Do When Your Dog Won't Stay," 24 Dec. 2018 Seattle failed to sack Carolina quarterback Cam Newton last week and hit the dual-threat signal caller just once. Mike Vorel, The Seattle Times, "How did Seahawks pass-rusher Jacob Martin prepare for his rookie season? Jiu-jitsu.," 28 Nov. 2018 Despite the signal word danger on most such labels, gardeners may instead just see vinegar and be careless. Margaret Roach, Good Housekeeping, "Why It Can Be Dangerous to Use Vinegar to Kill Weeds," 15 Aug. 2018 WikiLeaks says the country installed signal jammers to prevent him from accessing the internet in any way and have prevented him from seeing anyone but his lawyers. Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge, "WikiLeaks has a new editor-in-chief because Julian Assange has no internet access," 27 Sep. 2018 Both coaches have established formidable past partnerships with Pac-12 signal callers: Smith with Washington’s Jake Browning and Lindgren with Colorado’s Sefo Liufau. OregonLive.com, "Oregon State Beavers spring football practice: 5 storylines to watch," 2 Apr. 2018 In another strong signal real estate discussions were a major component of the trip, city planning commissioner David Reifman attended, as did Plan Commission Chairman Martin Cabrera. Bill Ruthhart, chicagotribune.com, "Who is in Asia with Emanuel? Campaign donors, lobbyists, developers, business heavyweights," 13 July 2018 The project will include two lanes in each direction and new or extended turn lanes at intersections, a bridge replacement, signal modifications and sidewalks. Karen Huppertz, ajc, "State approves grant funding for 2 road projects in Peachtree Corners," 25 June 2018 Both halves of the duo realize this, as their respective mile-long stares signal. refinery29.com, "Is Younger Setting The Stage For A Liza-Josh Reunion?," 11 July 2018

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

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1800, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Adjective

1591, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for signal

Noun

Middle English, from Medieval Latin signale, from Late Latin, neuter of signalis of a sign, from Latin signum

Adjective

modification of French signalé, past participle of signaler to distinguish, from Old Italian segnalare to signal, distinguish, from segnale signal, from Medieval Latin signale

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Statistics for signal

Last Updated

9 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for signal

The first known use of signal was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for signal

signal

noun

English Language Learners Definition of signal

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: an event or act which shows that something exists or that gives information about something
: something (such as a sound, a movement of part of the body, or an object) that gives information about something or that tells someone to do something
: a piece of equipment with colored lights that is used on railways and roads to tell people when to go, to slow down, or to stop

signal

verb

English Language Learners Definition of signal (Entry 2 of 3)

: to be a sign of (something) : to show the existence of (something)
: to make a sound or motion that tells someone something

signal

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of signal (Entry 3 of 3)

formal : very important or great

signal

noun
sig·​nal | \ ˈsig-nᵊl How to pronounce signal (audio) \

Kids Definition of signal

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : a sign, event, or word that serves to start some action … the manager gave the signal for the curtain to go down, and the audience … cheered.— Richard and Florence Atwater, Mr. Popper's Penguins
2 : a sound, a movement of part of the body, or an object that gives warning or a command The police officer made a signal with his hand. a traffic signal
3 : a radio wave that transmits a message or effect (as in radio or television)

signal

verb
signaled or signalled; signaling or signalling

Kids Definition of signal (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : to notify by a motion, action, movement, or sound
2 : to communicate with motions, actions, movements, or sounds

signal

adjective

Kids Definition of signal (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : unusually great a signal honor
2 : used for sending a message, warning, or command a signal light

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Comments on signal

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