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


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



Definition of signal (Entry 3 of 3)

: distinguished from the ordinary : notable a signal achievement

Other Words from signal


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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Scecina also struggled to generate much of a rushing attack, and the game transformed into a shootout between two talented signal callers ‒ Willis and Scecina junior David Mendez. Akeem Glaspie, The Indianapolis Star, 24 Sep. 2022 Through the Solidify Iran Sanctions Act, economic pressure would be placed on Iran’s energy sector, giving a clear signal the United States will not tolerate any existential threats. Ashley J. Dimella, Fox News, 24 Sep. 2022 The adapter uses a flip-open antenna, and there's an optional cradle that can hold the adapter and connect to a PC via its USB-A cable, allowing one to move the adapter for an improved signal. Scharon Harding, Ars Technica, 22 Sep. 2022 All three design teams recognize partnering with a gargantuan retailer is a fashion signal boost. Halie Lesavage, Harper's BAZAAR, 20 Sep. 2022 Finally, the Ten Rings transmit a signal somewhere in space. Chris Smith, BGR, 20 Sep. 2022 Omar Alvarez, 27, of the 300 block of Englewood Avenue, Bellwood, was charged September 5 with driving under the influence and for failing to signal when required. Chicago Tribune, 20 Sep. 2022 In preliminary trial results, the test found a positive cancer signal in 92 (1.4 percent) of more than 6,000 presumably healthy adults over the age of 50. Will Sullivan, Smithsonian Magazine, 20 Sep. 2022 But the notion that these arrests and bankruptcy signal China’s failure lacks evidence. David Feith, WSJ, 20 Sep. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb That’s what most Android manufacturers do, and that helps better signal that the screen wasn’t accidentally left fully on. Christian De Looper, BGR, 23 Sep. 2022 That episode 5 scene, in which Carey wears the colors of House Hightower to signal her loyalties at Rhaenyra’s nuptials, took numerous takes for Carey to get right. ELLE, 19 Sep. 2022 Since Biden made his initial comments in May, tensions with China have flared after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the island to signal support for its government and for democratic values. Time, 19 Sep. 2022 The proceeding formalities, including the dinner and dance, appear to signal all future conflict and alliances to come. Josh St. Clair, Men's Health, 18 Sep. 2022 These changing habits among teens and young adults signal a generational sea change, says Natalie Pennington, an assistant professor of communication at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Bailey Schulz, USA TODAY, 18 Sep. 2022 The All-Trac's outside appearance is just enough different from the GT-S's to signal the informed observer without attracting the gawkers. Patrick Bedard, Car and Driver, 16 Sep. 2022 As with other chronic illnesses, relapses can occur and signal a need for additional treatment, research shows. Moe Clark, ProPublica, 16 Sep. 2022 Every 20 minutes, a guard standing on an internal balcony banged his staff on the floor to signal the changing of the guard. Juliet Butler, Peoplemag, 16 Sep. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Driscoll was the defensive coordinator at Winthrop when Cadigan was the signal caller and linebacker in 1999. Nate Weitzer,, 15 Sep. 2022 These quick-release plugs can be easily detached from the earpieces and create a robust connection without signal loss. Mark Sparrow, Forbes, 3 Aug. 2022 Finally, Mora needs to see leadership from his signal caller. Joe Arruda, Hartford Courant, 14 Aug. 2022 The wireless transmission uses the latest version of Bluetooth which provides more signal range and a stable connection when streaming from any Bluetooth 5.2 compatible device. Mark Sparrow, Forbes, 12 Apr. 2022 The global tax agreement had appeared to be a signal achievement for Ms. Yellen, who helped salvage negotiations that were flailing in the final months of the Trump administration. Richard Rubin, WSJ, 16 July 2022 As of June 30, there were 599 vacancies for safety positions, including bus drivers, rail maintenance staff, and signal workers, up from 586 vacancies at the end of May. Globe Staff,, 14 July 2022 After all, pricing serves as a medium to deliver a signal giving more information about a product and service, and without knowing the value associated with a foreign currency, one simply cannot infer levels of accurate information. Josh Wilson, Forbes, 11 July 2022 This can boost speeds, efficiency, and signal quality while simultaneously reducing errors and interference. Simon Hill, Wired, 28 June 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of signal


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1800, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


1591, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for signal


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


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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Time Traveler for signal

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Dictionary Entries Near signal



signal board

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Last Updated

26 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Signal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for signal


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 {amp} 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)


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



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

More from Merriam-Webster on signal

Nglish: Translation of signal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of signal for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about signal


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