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

These are small signals, to be sure, but every springtime starts with green shoots. Alex Davies, WIRED, "Cheaper Lidar, a Self-Driving Deal, and Other Car News This Week," 14 July 2019 To no surprise, goal differential is an easy signal of success, and a negative differential is a quick deterrent of it. Shawn Mcfarland, courant.com, "The positives, negatives and outlook of Hartford Athletic through its first half season," 12 July 2019 Those debates centered less on recovery than on the definition of life and the right to die; the new analysis presumes some resting level of EEG, and that signal in both women was virtually flat. New York Times, "‘It’s Gigantic’: A New Way to Gauge the Chances for Unresponsive Patients," 26 June 2019 Traditionally a signal of summer in Northern California, the fish will finally be plentiful again in time for Fourth of July barbecue season. Tara Duggan, SFChronicle.com, "California fishermen report the biggest salmon season in a decade," 21 June 2019 The images were grainy and at times hard to make out, as if the signal was coming from the moon. Scott Craven, azcentral, "Apollo 11 50th anniversary: Here's where to celebrate the moon landing around Arizona," 10 July 2019 The signals coming from the UAE, which has strong commercial ties with Iran, have been more mixed, though there is clear concern about U.S. resolve. Erin Cunningham, Washington Post, "Allies in the Persian Gulf pushed the U.S. to confront Iran. Now they’re not sure what they want.," 10 July 2019 Scientists think the system's infrared signal is best explained by two distinct rings composed of dust supplied by crumbling asteroids. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Hubble spies a spiral galaxy blooming like roses 70 million light-years away," 8 July 2019 In this case, the Court’s signal was clear: No matter how much partisan gerrymanders disenfranchise voters, the Court will not interfere. Scott Lemieux, Vox, "5 takeaways from the Supreme Court’s just-ended term," 29 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The Chicago Transit Authority is going to issue buttons to pregnant women to signal that other riders should offer up their seats. USA TODAY, "Glowing rock fight, Statehouse stash, hometown hero: News from around our 50 states," 15 July 2019 The vigil is scheduled for 7 p.m. at 713 University Drive, the road on which a Texas state trooper pulled over Bland for failing to signal a lane change, then arrested her. Jasper Scherer, Houston Chronicle, "Activists plan vigil, rally on four-year anniversary of Sandra Bland's death," 13 July 2019 Jack Altman wants the policy to signal that miscarriages happen, more often than people believe. Melia Russell, SFChronicle.com, "Miscarriage leave, a benefit no one wants to use, on the rise," 12 July 2019 The Phoenix area will swelter under an excessive heat warning through Friday evening, but those high temperatures are also expected to signal the start of monsoon activity in the state. Weldon B. Johnson, azcentral, "Arizona monsoon season: High heat could bring storms in Tucson, dust in the Phoenix area," 10 July 2019 Thursday's conference raised questions about whether Trump would use the forum to signal tough actions ahead by his administration against the big companies in the areas of competition and privacy. CBS News, "White House social media summit to snub tech giants, host conservative personalities," 9 July 2019 Absent any further blow-up in U.S.-China trade talks, the dollar may already have peaked, given the abrupt shift in the Fed’s rhetoric in recent weeks that appears to signal the end of a 10-year policy cycle. Geoffrey Smith, Fortune, "A Fear at the G20 Summit: That the U.S.-China Trade War Turns Into a Currency Conflict," 28 June 2019 Andy doesn't like this time of year, the spring and early summer months, when birds chirp to signal the beginning of each new day and flowers bloom and everything comes alive. Freep.com, "Livonia dad torments himself every day over his son's final hours," 16 June 2019 But allowing dogs in the office—and providing other pet-friendly perks—is a way for employers to signal that they’re invested in their workers’ emotional and mental health. Sarah Todd, Quartz at Work, "The most dog-friendly offices in the US, according to Rover.com," 12 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Harris’ confrontation with Biden was a signal moment for the senator, whose campaign had been stalled below the top tier in polling. latimes.com, "Democratic debate: Joe Biden pushed on the defensive by Kamala Harris and others," 27 June 2019 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

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

18 Jul 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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