\ˈsīn \

Definition of sign 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a motion or gesture by which a thought is expressed or a command or wish made known

b : signal sense 2a

c : a fundamental linguistic unit that designates an object or relation or has a purely syntactic function signs include words, morphemes, and punctuation

d : one of a set of gestures used to represent language also : sign language

2 : a mark having a conventional meaning and used in place of words or to represent a complex notion

3 : one of the 12 divisions of the zodiac

4a(1) : a character (such as a flat or sharp) used in musical notation

(2) : segno

b : a character (such as ÷) indicating a mathematical operation also : one of two characters + and − that form part of the symbol of a number and characterize it as positive or negative

5a : a display (such as a lettered board or a configuration of neon tubing) used to identify or advertise a place of business or a product

b : a posted command, warning, or direction

c : signboard

6a : something material or external that stands for or signifies something spiritual

b : something indicating the presence or existence of something else signs of success a sign of the times

c : presage, portent signs of an early spring

d : an objective evidence of plant or animal disease

7 plural usually sign : traces of a usually wild animal red fox sign


signed; signing; signs

Definition of sign (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : cross sense 2

b : to place a sign on or mark by signs sign a trail

c : to represent or indicate by a sign

2a : to affix a signature to : ratify or attest by hand or seal sign a bill into law sign a confession

b : to assign or convey formally signed over his property to his brother

c : to write down (one's name)

d : to affix one's name to a signed review

3 : to communicate by making a sign or by sign language

4 : to engage or hire by securing the signature of on a contract of employment often used with up or on

intransitive verb

1 : to write one's name in token of assent, responsibility, or obligation signed for the packages signed with the team for one season

2a : to make a sign or signal

b : to use sign language

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Other Words from sign


signee \ˌsī-ˈnē \ noun
signer \ˈsī-nər \ noun

Synonyms for sign

Synonyms: Noun

gesticulation, gesture, mime, pantomime, signal

Synonyms: Verb

autograph, ink, subscribe

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Choose the Right Synonym for sign


sign, mark, token, note, symptom mean a discernible indication of what is not itself directly perceptible. sign applies to any indication to be perceived by the senses or the reason. encouraging signs for the economy mark suggests something impressed on or inherently characteristic of a thing often in contrast to general outward appearance. a mark of a good upbringing token applies to something that serves as a proof of something intangible. this gift is a token of our esteem note suggests a distinguishing mark or characteristic. a note of irony in her writing symptom suggests an outward indication of an internal change or condition. rampant crime is a symptom of that city's decay

Examples of sign in a Sentence


The sign in the store window says “OPEN.” After you get off the highway, follow the signs for Route 25. He ran the stop sign. There was a “For Sale” sign on the car. All the signs point to him as the guilty party. She ignored me, which was a sure sign that she was mad at me. “The company called me in for a second interview.” “That's a good sign.” It was a bad sign that he couldn't walk on the injured leg. There are plenty of warning signs that the company is in danger of bankruptcy. They bowed before the king as a sign of respect.


Sign your name on the bottom line. She met with fans and signed autographs. Please sign at the bottom of the application. You forgot to sign the document. He was forced to sign the confession. The contract was signed by both parties. The author will be signing copies of his books today. The contract should be signed, sealed, and delivered by tomorrow. The team signed the pitcher to a three-year contract. He is signed to a three-year contract.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

There are signs that the jihadists are learning from one another and sucking money and support from militant groups in the Middle East. The Economist, "The fight against Islamic State is moving to Africa," 14 July 2018 In every World Cup city, there were signs that the local government had made an effort to tidy up. Ivan Nechepurenko, New York Times, "Peeking Around Corners in the World Cup’s Provincial Cities," 14 July 2018 According to a press release, the new collection has a Color Icon Lip Gloss for each sign — nine of which are vegan. Jodie Layne, Teen Vogue, "Wet n Wild Is Launching a Zodiac Themed Makeup Collection," 13 July 2018 Drive-ins continued to hold on through the 1970s, but there were signs that the future wasn’t bright. Peter Hartlaub,, "SF almost had a Sutro Drive-In in 1950, and more local outdoor movie history," 13 July 2018 Then again, there could be worse signs for American business and the economy right now. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, "Why an Antitrust Farce Must Continue," 13 July 2018 The Turkish side are still reluctant to pay the wages Meyer wants, but are willing to offer a sign-on fee and bonuses., "Max Meyer Could Move to Turkey After Being Rejected By Liverpool and Arsenal Due to Wage Demands," 13 July 2018 Milwaukee could, however, talk with the Bulls about a sign-and-trade prior to an offer sheet getting signed. Matt Velazquez, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Jabari Parker nearing offer sheet deal with Chicago Bulls," 13 July 2018 Bookie’s New and Used Books installed a sign Thursday and is set to open soon at 2015 Ridge Road. Ted Slowik, Daily Southtown, "Slowik: Homewood takes spotlight on 'WGN Morning News' live block party broadcast," 13 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The 30-year-old, who recently signed with Italian club AC Milan, has frequently been left on his own defensively. Hayden Bird,, "What to know about the World Cup title match," 14 July 2018 Recently, the number of visitors who have signed the guest book at the small museum on Cole Grade Road hit 40,000. J. Harry Jones,, "Small Valley Center history museum draws big crowds," 13 July 2018 Trout is the best individual asset baseball has—for years its undisputed best player, a physical freak who slugs like Aaron Judge and runs like Dee Gordon, and a role model who signs autographs for kids before every game and is perpetually upbeat. Tom Verducci,, "The Star That Still Won't Shine: The Incredible, Unprecedented but Unseen Greatness of Mike Trout," 12 July 2018 And without his salary, his aunt, who co-signed for his student loans, would have been on the line. Camila Russo,, "These Are America’s White-Collar Dreamers," 9 July 2018 The Bulls and Kings battled over who could sign Zach LaVine to a four-year contract at $19 million per year. Ira Winderman,, "ASK IRA: Is Duncan Robinson making himself a Heat keeper?," 9 July 2018 Enter Bob Dandridge, who signed with the Bullets before the 1977-78 season. Ryan Ford, Detroit Free Press, "NBA superteams haven't won all the championships: 5 surprise winners," 9 July 2018 With Lopez's addition, Milwaukee's roster stands at 15 players, including first-round draft pick Donte DiVincenzo and free-agent Ersan Ilyasova, who have not yet signed with the Bucks but are expected to do so. Matt Velazquez, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Brook Lopez brings brings a frontcourt presence and a reliable three-point shot," 8 July 2018 All had signed enlistment contracts and taken an Army oath, Stock said. CBS News, "U.S. Army abruptly discharging immigrant recruits: AP," 6 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sign.' 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 sign


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for sign


Middle English signe, from Anglo-French, from Latin signum mark, token, sign, image, seal; perhaps akin to Latin secare to cut — more at saw


Middle English, from Anglo-French signer, from Latin signare to mark, sign, seal, from signum

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Statistics for sign

Last Updated

6 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sign

The first known use of sign was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for sign



English Language Learners Definition of sign

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a piece of paper, wood, etc., with words or pictures on it that gives information about something

: something (such as an action or event) which shows that something else exists, is true, or will happen

: a motion, action, or movement that you use to express a thought, command, or wish



English Language Learners Definition of sign (Entry 2 of 2)

: to write (your name) on something

: to write your name on (something) especially to show that you accept, agree with, or will be responsible for something

: to hire (someone) to do something especially by having that person sign a contract


\ˈsīn \

Kids Definition of sign

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a motion, action, or movement of the hand that means something The teacher made a sign for them to be quiet.

2 : a public notice that advertises something or gives information a stop sign

3 : something that indicates what is present or is to come the first signs of spring

4 : a symbol (as + or ÷) indicating a mathematical operation

5 : one of the twelve parts of the zodiac


signed; signing

Kids Definition of sign (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to put a signature on to show acceptance, agreement, or responsibility His boss signed the order form.

2 : to communicate by using sign language

3 : to represent or show by a motion, action, or movement

4 : to make or place a sign on

sign up

: to sign someone's name in order to get, do, or take something I signed up to go.


\ˈsīn \

Medical Definition of sign 

1 : one of a set of gestures used to represent language

2 : an objective evidence of disease especially as observed and interpreted by the physician rather than by the patient or lay observer narrow retinal vessels are a sign of arteriosclerosis — see brudzinski sign, chvostek's sign, homans' sign, kernig sign, physical sign, placental sign, romberg's sign, tinel's sign, vital signs, von graefe's sign — compare symptom

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Legal Definition of sign 

1 : to affix a signature to : ratify or attest by hand or seal sign a bill into law specifically : to write or mark something (as a signature) on (a document) as an acknowledgment of one's intention to be bound by it

2 : to assign or convey formally signed the property over to his brother

Other Words from sign

signer noun

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Comments on sign

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


to reject or criticize sharply

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