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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Macrophages also are responsible for releasing signals, called cytokines, that activate other immune cells to combat the virus and initiate inflammation. USA Today, "How does the coronavirus cause COVID toes or loss of smell? Here's how the immune system reacts.," 18 May 2020 Handshakes, historically, have often been invoked in that way: as signals of easy equality, as hope for a friction-free world. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, "After the Handshake," 11 May 2020 Investors with an eye for history might paradoxically see that as a rare signal to buy auto stocks. Stephen Wilmot, WSJ, "Auto Sales Are Accelerating, Auto Stocks Might Not," 4 May 2020 The finding is a warning signal—possibly the beginning of a feedback loop in which natural processes in the Arctic may make the impacts of climate change far worse. Madeline Ostrander, Smithsonian Magazine, "In a Tunnel Beneath Alaska, Scientists Race to Understand Disappearing Permafrost," 4 May 2020 These emerging distress signals indicate that India’s gross domestic product (GDP) is getting trimmed. Prathamesh Mulye, Quartz India, "In a sign of things to come, India’s eight core industries shrink 6.5% in March," 1 May 2020 The device relies on ultra high frequency radio signals, used in police and ham radios, to give employers a list of workers who came into contact with each other. Amrita Khalid, Quartz, "Social distancing tech hits construction sites and factory floors," 24 Apr. 2020 Historically, turnout has not served as a reliable signal of general election outcomes. Jasper Scherer, Houston Chronicle, "Texas Democrats outpace Republicans in statewide primary turnout," 7 Mar. 2020 When all was said and done, Stone attorney Bruce Rogow put a hand to Stone’s back in what appeared to be a gesture of emotional support that Stone played off as a signal to go back to the defense table. Lucien Bruggeman, ABC News, "Trump ally Roger Stone gets 40 months in prison after sentencing firestorm," 20 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, who oversees the transportation department, signaled the city would push for a gas tax renewal more than a year ago. oregonlive, "Portland voters renew 10-cent gas tax measure for 4 years: Oregon election results," 20 May 2020 Where is the roll call of names each morning or night, read by some person in a position of authority, to signal to the rest of us that these individuals are not mere statistics, that their lives had innate dignity and worth? Jessica M. Goldstein, The New Republic, "When Will We Grieve the Covid Dead?," 20 May 2020 The simple system shows either a blue, yellow, or red light to signal good, moderate, or poor air quality. Braelyn Wood, Health.com, "Air Quality Sensor Will Alert Your Household to Pollution—and Fix The Issue," 14 May 2020 And President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi signaled his intentions even earlier than Mr. Erdoğan. Ned Temko, The Christian Science Monitor, "COVID-19 brings new threat to journalists: jail," 13 May 2020 Blood, sweat, swollen eyelids and face masks signaled the return of UFC, the first major sporting event to resume since the coronavirus shuttered much of the country for nearly two months. Fox News, "UFC 249 ushers in fan-free, mask-filled era of sports," 9 May 2020 His stomachache signaled an abscess near his appendix; the delay in treatment allowed the infection to spread. Los Angeles Times, "Column: Pain, fear and isolation. COVID-19 made his hospital stay even more surreal and sad," 7 May 2020 On Wednesday, both state Attorney General Ken Paxton and Abbott signaled their displeasure with the decision to jail Luther and demanded that she be released. Cassandra Jaramillo, Dallas News, "Meet the Dallas salon owner whose decision to reopen put her in the middle of a national debate," 6 May 2020 Speaking on conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt's program, McConnell signaled how that is at the forefront of his mind. Phillip M. Bailey, The Courier-Journal, "Mitch McConnell takes a risk igniting firestorm with governors over COVID-19 aid," 23 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective In a low-impact crash that does not signal air bag deployment, this body position has moved the seat belt, assuming it's being used, off the waist and onto the abdomen, and near the throat. cleveland, "Dear Annie: Tell kids to keep their feet off the dashboard," 12 Oct. 2019 Sanders’ withdrawal from the race was a signal moment in Biden’s decades-long career in politics. Janet Hook, Los Angeles Times, "Now comes the hard part: Joe Biden must unify a divided party," 8 Apr. 2020 That’s where 247 has the soon-to-be junior signal-caller in its latest 2022 rankings. Dallas News, "Southlake Carroll QB Quinn Ewers tabbed as No. 2 recruit in nation for Class of 2022; other locals make ranked list," 22 Mar. 2020 And according to Sports Illustrated, Alabama coaches have given those scouts a comparison for Tagovailoa in longtime New Orleans Saints signal caller Drew Brees. Mike Rodak | Mrodak@al.com, al, "Nick Saban compares Tua Tagovailoa to Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees," 17 Feb. 2020 Joe Burrow, the Louisiana State signal caller who won the Heisman Trophy, could be the top choice over all for the Cincinnati Bengals. Alan Blinder, New York Times, "Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama’s Star Quarterback, Will Enter the N.F.L. Draft," 6 Jan. 2020 Police charged the man with OVI and cited him for the marked lanes and turn signal infractions. cleveland, "Woman found asleep at the wheel is one of six reported OVI arrests last week: Shaker Heights police blotter," 15 Nov. 2019 Messenger pigeons, signal lamps and flags, made up most of the battlefield communications. Olivia B. Waxman, Time, "The Real World War I History Behind the Movie 1917," 23 Dec. 2019 The Codebreakers poppy retails for £30.00 (around $40) and pays tribute to those who worked in signal intelligence. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kate Middleton's Codebreakers Poppy Brooch Paid Tribute to Her Grandmother," 11 Nov. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about signal

Time Traveler for signal

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for signal

Last Updated

22 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Signal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/signal. Accessed 1 Jun. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for signal

signal

noun
How to pronounce signal (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on signal

What made you want to look up signal? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

May 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a blooming wisteria tree
  • Which is a synonym of exiguous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!