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 Raiders’ signal-caller has brutal matchups in two of the next three games, facing the Vikings on the road this week and the Bears at home in Week 5. Frankie Taddeo, SI.com, "Fantasy Football 2019: Week 3 Players You Can Drop," 17 Sep. 2019 Lorenzo Reyes looks at how each team will adjust with their signal callers on the mend. Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Roethlisberger, Brees injuries shake up NFL playoff races, force hard look at the future," 16 Sep. 2019 The freshman signal-caller had back-to-back big runs on the opening drive, rushing for 17 yards and then 18 yards on a pair of keepers. Tom Green | Tgreen@al.com, al, "Auburn finds footing in run game vs. Kent State, rushes for most yards since 2016," 15 Sep. 2019 Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders: Week 2 preview, betting trends and notes New faces on both sides of the football have improved Oakland’s outlook with regard to protecting the quarterback and getting to opposing signal-callers. Skip Snow, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders odds, picks and best bets [UPDATED]," 15 Sep. 2019 On Oakland’s next offensive series, new Raiders signal-caller Tom Flores was picked off in the flat by Broncos defensive end Bill Yelverton at the visitors’ 20-yard line. Sean Keeler, The Denver Post, "Denver Broncos home openers turn 60: Different time, same love affair," 15 Sep. 2019 Junior signal caller Carson Taumoepeau ran for 35 yards on the ground and was 10 of 18 for 103 yards in the air. Scott Walsh, San Diego Union-Tribune, "It’s not pretty, but Mt. Carmel takes down Ramona," 13 Sep. 2019 The Monte Vista signal-caller is averaging 214.5 yards passing a game, completing 40 of 64 attempts (.625) with six touchdowns and four interceptions. The Mercury News, "Bay Area high school football: Games to watch this weekend," 12 Sep. 2019 The six-time Pro Bowl selection is the defensive signal-caller for a team that plays the New Orleans Saints next Sunday at the Coliseum. Los Angeles Times, "Rams’ Eric Weddle in concussion protocol after collision with Christian McCaffrey," 8 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

According to the data, that would signal a terrifying 787 percent rise from five years ago. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Painful lesson of late Jake Palet: Helping, hurting can go hand-in-hand," 16 Sep. 2019 The American president was more cautious about a move that would signal a dramatic shift in almost a half century of broken diplomatic ties between Tehran and Washington. Josh Wingrove, Fortune, "Trump Says He’d Meet Rouhani Under ‘Correct’ Circumstances," 26 Aug. 2019 Most diseases release proteins or other molecules that signal the problem. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Color-changing metal may provide early sign of illness," 21 Aug. 2019 For decades, scientists have searched for clues that would signal an impending earthquake. Jenny Howard, National Geographic, "Groundbreaking earthquake catalog may have just solved a seismic mystery," 13 Aug. 2019 In Lock’s sonnets, the conjunctions that would typically signal a volta are often a ruse. Jamie Quatro, The New Yorker, "The Hidden Life of a Forgotten Sixteenth-Century Female Poet," 5 Aug. 2019 The stars’ light waxes and wanes at a rate that signals their intrinsic brightness. Joshua Sokol, Science | AAAS, "Debate intensifies over speed of expanding universe," 19 July 2019 The retreat is a humiliation for a bank that once signalled a desire to knock Goldman Sachs off the top of global investment-banking league tables. The Economist, "Deutsche Bank’s retreat ends European hopes of conquering Wall Street," 11 July 2019 Three senior policy makers signaled concerns over euro-area growth in recent days. Washington Post, "ECB Is Awake and Asleep at the Same Time," 18 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Layoffs, with their attendant blaring headlines, often signal trouble ahead. Heather Landy, Quartz at Work, "In defense of Uber laying off another 435 employees," 10 Sep. 2019 The Panthers had nearly 700 yards total offense, including Panther signal caller Austin Walker completing four of six passes for 84 yards and no INTs. David Taylor, Houston Chronicle, "Liberty takes advantage of Cleveland miscues for 69-13 win," 9 Sep. 2019 Plump red, yellow, and green beauties appearing on the vine signal summer’s arrival. al, "Serve a meal inspired by Alabama’s 200-year history," 20 Aug. 2019 Staff and teammates rave about Hoyer’s leadership and work as the scout team signal caller. Jim Mcbride, BostonGlobe.com, "With oodles of talent and depth, there will be plenty of interesting position battles during Patriots training camp," 22 July 2019 What people forget is that Fournette was playing behind an atrocious offensive line last season and had arguably the worst QB in the NFL as the team’s signal caller. Dr. Roto, SI.com, "Fantasy Football: 10 Bounceback Candidates For 2019," 9 Aug. 2019 With training camp in full swing, quarterback Marcus Mariota, the first Samoan Heisman Trophy winner, will be the signal caller for the NFL’s Tennessee Titans. Rob Ruck, The Conversation, "I traveled to American Samoa 5 times to study the secret to its football success," 8 Aug. 2019 And signal weakness, and a willingness to let Trump get inside her head. Nr Staff, National Review, "A Series of Own Goals," 13 July 2019 Suddenly, the light WIMP scenario seems at least plausible, bolstered by Hooper’s analysis of gamma rays from the center of our Milky Way showing hints of a dark matter signal consistent with the lighter 10 GeV scenario. Jennifer Ouellette, Quanta Magazine, "In the Hunt for Dark Matter, Promises to Keep?," 18 July 2013

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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Learn More about signal

Statistics for signal

Last Updated

10 Oct 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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