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

The most worrying part of Friday’s data release was the signal on heavy industry. Nathaniel Taplin, WSJ, "Juice for China’s Economy Is Coming," 14 June 2019 The admission in court Wednesday was a signal that their sole objective was not to win a not-guilty verdict, but to persuade jurors not to vote to sentence Christensen to death. CBS News, "Doctoral student's defense lawyers in trial of Chinese scholar's brutal death: He did it," 13 June 2019 The state’s elections in 2017 were an early warning signal that a blue wave of opposition to President Donald Trump would wash over the 2018 U.S. midterms, and political analysts are looking for clues about trends in 2020. Washington Post, "Feisty Virginia primaries closely watched for national trend," 11 June 2019 These are a strong signal to employees that their work is valued. Jessica Levy, Cincinnati.com, "Carespring communities shatter nursing care and assisted living stereotypes," 7 June 2019 News of the D-Day invasion in 1944 was a signal for prayers throughout San Diego This week marks the 75th anniversary of the pivotal World War II invasion. The Tribune-sun, San Diego Union-Tribune, "From the Archives: 75 years ago the Allies stormed beachheads in France," 6 June 2019 The sirens were a prearranged signal, although many Dallasites did not seem to know. Dallas News, "D-Day as Dallas lived it," 6 June 2019 In addition to the potential adverse effects, energy drinks mask symptoms of fatigue, which are signals that your body is out of balance. Cynthia Sass, Mph, Health.com, "Energy Drinks May Cause Heart Problems—Here’s How to Get a Natural Boost Instead," 4 June 2019 The grin, though, is an intensely social signal that mixes fear with a desire for acceptance. Frans De Waal, Discover Magazine, "Cheerful Chimps: Are Animals Really Happy When They Smile?," 31 May 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Residential building permits, which can signal how much construction is in the pipeline, rose 0.3% from April to an annual pace of 1.294 million. Harriet Torry, WSJ, "U.S. Housing Starts Declined in May," 18 June 2019 But New York University law professor Eleanor Fox says initial details about the currency don’t signal any traditional antitrust problems. Washington Post, "The Latest: Lawmaker wants Facebook to suspend currency plan," 18 June 2019 Power play The new government has signalled plans to build on some of Mr Modi’s first-term successes. The Economist, "What will Narendra Modi do in his new term as India’s prime minister?," 14 June 2019 Anisimova was up a break and serving at 2-1 in the third when her coach signaled from the stands that play should be halted because of rain. Howard Fendrich, chicagotribune.com, "Rafael Nadal beats Roger Federer in 3 sets to advance to his 12th French Open final," 7 June 2019 Anisimova was up a break and serving at 2-1 in the third when her coach signaled from the stands that play should be halted because of rain. Howard Fendrich, Houston Chronicle, "Rafael Nadal tops Roger Federer in 3 sets to reach 12th French Open final," 7 June 2019 That doesn’t necessarily signal a slowdown, just a different type of fulfillment to join the man’s usual drive. Mike Anthony, courant.com, "Mike Anthony: How long will Jim Calhoun coach? ‘For as long as I can coach’," 6 June 2019 The judges did not signal when their ruling may drop. oregonlive.com, "Federal appeals court hears ‘climate change kids’ case," 4 June 2019 Steel-laden trucks waited in line along the narrow streets of the Financial District to pull up with when a flag signaled their turn. Jonathan Schifman, Popular Mechanics, "A Friendship Turned to Rivalry. A Feud That Changed the New York Skyline.," 27 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

20 Jun 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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