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

Market interest rate signals can be misleading and dangerous. Kate Davidson, WSJ, "Worry About Debt? Not So Fast, Some Economists Say," 17 Feb. 2019 If someone were born in northern Greece or Anatolia, the strontium signal would be different from that of Iron Gates natives. Mark Barna, Discover Magazine, "When Farmers and Foragers First Met," 24 Oct. 2018 And there are several foods that can send unhealthy communication signals from the stomach to the brain. Lori Nickel, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Chin Up: The body's second brain — the gut — and how to keep it healthy," 13 June 2018 There aren’t any iPhones or Android phones capable of receiving 5G signals, though a few are expected later this year. Michael Simon, PCWorld, "AT&T 5GE on iPhone and Android phones: What you need to know," 5 Feb. 2019 Tapper sharing the statement with his nearly 2 million Twitter followers was a significant signal boost, and CNN later ran the statement in full on its website. Kate Storey, Town & Country, "Behind the PR Machine That Helped Change the Nick Sandmann Narrative," 25 Jan. 2019 Experts don't completely understand what's happening in our skulls when a headache hits, but the most likely explanation is that something causes the blood vessels to swell, subsequently stretching the nerves around them and firing off pain signals. Amy Marturana, SELF, "What Your Headaches Can Tell You About Your Health," 29 Dec. 2018 Not only was Graham given a bigger platform, but the conversation about size inclusivity in fashion also got a major signal boost. Michaela Dosamantes, Glamour, "Ashley Graham’s Been Having Difficult Conversations for Two Decades. Now People Are Listening.," 19 Nov. 2018 For most of the 60-year history of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), researchers have hunted for radio signals. Mike Wall, Space.com, "Student Project Scans Sky for Alien Laser Beams," 29 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Residential building permits, which can signal how much construction is in the pipeline, rose a more modest 1.4% from December to an annual pace of 1.345 million. ... Harriet Torry, WSJ, "U.S. Housing Starts Jumped in January," 8 Mar. 2019 Chest discomfort on the left side, which could signal a heart attack, generally deserves prompt medical attention. Cassie Shortsleeve, SELF, "When to Go to Urgent Care Vs. the ER," 16 Feb. 2019 There is, however, one major clue that could signal which politicians plan to run before officially announcing their bid. Rachel Epstein, Marie Claire, "How to Tell If a Candidate Is Planning to Run for President in 2020," 31 Dec. 2018 Georgiou and Section 31 are alarmed by the appearance of several red bursts, which typically signal the arrival of the red angel. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Spock smiles in the face of danger in new trailer for Star Trek: Discovery S2," 13 Dec. 2018 Tears that signal the inability to handle what the world is throwing your way. Brittney Mcnamara, Teen Vogue, "Jokes About Justin Bieber Crying Show Harmful Attitudes About Masculinity," 9 Nov. 2018 The Reds have been linked with the 22-year-old throughout the summer following a breakthrough season with the Belgian outfit, which signalled his ability to offer reinforcement to either flank alongside Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane. SI.com, "Liverpool in 'Advanced Talks' With Belgian Side Gent Over £10m Rated Nigerian Winger," 30 June 2018 Each creature comes with an attack and defense rating in the bottom right corner, which signals how powerful the creature is, along with additional abilities listed on the card. Darren Orf, Popular Mechanics, "How to Play 'Magic: The Gathering': Everything You Need to Know," 19 Feb. 2019 Sensing irritation in your nasal passages, your body releases special brain-signaling chemicals that then trigger a convulsive expulsion of air out of the nose and mouth at more than 30 miles per hour. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "It’s 2019: How Are People Still Not Sneezing the Right Way?!?," 8 Feb. 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

14 Mar 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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