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

In the IoT Innovation Center, HPE staff demoed a potential flood alert system, which sends a signal for streets to be closed and area citizens to receive alerts through Twitter or another digital service. Chevall Pryce, Houston Chronicle, "HPE panel discusses the future of technology, smart cities," 24 July 2019 The outpost is tasked with intercepting radio signals, primarily from Russia. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "The World’s Northernmost Permanent Settlement Set a Record High Temperature," 22 July 2019 Sending a signal The government’s efforts to improve the area may accelerate that race with private developers. Andrew Kenney, The Denver Post, "“There’s speculators buying up houses:” Denver’s East Colfax braces for transit, density and displacement," 22 July 2019 In addition, the Deep Space Network permits communications with satellites that are on highly elliptical orbits, to monitor the poles and deliver radio signals. Jean Creighton, Quartz, "These innovations from the Moon landing changed life on Earth," 19 July 2019 Airlines and Honeywell have argued that radio signals were unlikely to cause safety problems during flight. Anita Sharpe, Fortune, "Flying on a Boeing 737 or 777? It’s Probably Best to Turn Off Your Phone," 19 July 2019 Back in the ’80s, a highly advanced research vessel went missing near the Arctic Circle, only to suddenly reappear 40 years later, now sending a distress signal. Christian Holub, EW.com, "Exclusive: Joe Hill is writing and overseeing a new line of DC horror comics," 26 June 2019 With a minimum of four minutes to relay a radio signal between the two planets, the copter has to be basically autonomous — able to fly flawlessly, by itself, over terrain no human has ever encountered. Jonathon Keats, Discover Magazine, "The Origins of Flight, From Birds to Bugs to Planes," 21 June 2019 That means, in principle, that Rydberg atoms could receive and play back radio signals. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "We’re one step closer to atomic radio," 21 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Bentley was signaling the start of his second season in the same place where his promising rookie campaign ended in Week 3 because of a torn biceps. Jim Mcbride, BostonGlobe.com, "Patriots’ Ja’Whaun Bentley looks ready to contribute," 11 Aug. 2019 But for neuroscience researchers, those sounds can signal something much darker: brain damage. Eva Frederick, Science | AAAS, "Just one season of playing football—even without a concussion—can cause brain damage," 7 Aug. 2019 But those departures—especially that of Hurd—also signal the Republican Party’s long-term direction under Trump. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "The Incredible Shrinking GOP," 5 Aug. 2019 In this case, airlines signal their displeasure with their competition by dropping fares. Scott Mcmurren, Anchorage Daily News, "To find those fleeting, super-cheap ticket deals, check out hub cities where Alaska and Delta are sparring," 3 Aug. 2019 With the missile tests, North Korea could be signaling its opposition to a military drill by the United States and South Korea that is scheduled for August. New York Times, "North Korea Launches More Missiles, U.S. Says, Amid Stalled Diplomacy," 1 Aug. 2019 Rising prices and wages initially signal more demand, which encourages more growth and spending. Allison Schrager, Quartz, "The Fed finally cut rates. Will anyone notice?," 31 July 2019 According to USA Today, red flags signal dangerous currents or that the surf is high (or both). Maggie O'neill, Health.com, "A Father of Six Was Killed By a Wave at a North Carolina Beach. Here’s How That Can Happen," 22 July 2019 By mocking and dismissing her colleagues in such a condescending way, Pelosi is signaling to not just her centrist House co-conspirators, but to the GOP that these women are not to be respected, trusted, nor taken seriously. Kirsten West Savali, Essence, "Opinion: Ocasio-Cortez Makes It Plain: Pelosi Is Being 'Outright Disrespectful' To 'Newly Elected Women Of Color'," 12 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

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 Harris’ confrontation with Biden was a signal moment for the senator, whose campaign had been stalled below the top tier in polling. latimes.com, "Democratic debate: Joe Biden pushed on the defensive by Kamala Harris and others," 27 June 2019 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

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

15 Aug 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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