\ ˈsīn How to pronounce sign (audio) \

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
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
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

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 How to pronounce signee (audio) \ noun
signer \ ˈsī-​nər How to pronounce signer (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for sign

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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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

Noun 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. Verb 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 Early signs indicate the potential benefits of changing the admissions process NEW YORK CITY is famous for its diversity. The Economist, "A Brooklyn school district tackles school segregation," 11 Jan. 2020 The pace of annual average wage growth slowed in December to 2.9% from 3.1% in the prior month, a possible sign that there is still room for additional job gains despite the decade-plus expansion. Josh Boak, Houston Chronicle, "U.S. adds 145,000 jobs; unemployment holds at 3.5%," 10 Jan. 2020 Several renderings show people crossing the bridges on foot or by bike over the highway and include separate exit signs for the Ambassador Bridge (the long-standing border crossing) and Gordie Howe bridge. Eric D. Lawrence, Detroit Free Press, "Gordie Howe bridge: 5 new ways to get across I-75 on foot," 10 Jan. 2020 Wild mushrooms lacked sign saying they were uninspected. oregonlive, "These 21 Oregon grocery stores did the worst on state health inspections," 10 Jan. 2020 With Oscar nominations yet to come Jan. 13, signs that an awards boost is a real thing couldn't be better news for the struggling specialty marketplace, which faces fierce competition from streamers, particularly the Oscar-hungry Netflix. Pamela Mcclintock, The Hollywood Reporter, "Oscars: Specialty Contenders Show Mixed Results at the Box Office," 9 Jan. 2020 Judson Independent School District Superintendent Jeanette Ball offered an incentive to the seniors at Wagner and Judson high schools: whichever school reached a 100 percent sign-up rate first would get a prize. Ashley Mcbride,, "San Antonio-area high school celebrates 100% sign-up rate for free tuition with Alamo Promise," 9 Jan. 2020 While symptoms of the disease can vary, early signs include the rash, fever, chills, aches, neck stiffness, and more. Brittney Mcnamara, Teen Vogue, "Justin Bieber Has Lyme Disease and Says He's “Overcoming” it," 9 Jan. 2020 What if the Frogs’ 5-7 record in 2019 isn’t an aberration, but rather a sign of things to come? Dallas News, "3 reasons why TCU could be worse in 2020: Frogs have to replace several stars on a depleted roster," 9 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Shortly after taking office, Han traveled to China to sign deals to sell 5.2 billion New Taiwan dollars ($165 million) worth of Taiwanese agricultural products. Washington Post, "Taiwan votes with future of its democracy on the line," 11 Jan. 2020 Once Lee officially inks his standard NBA deal, the Warriors will have until Jan. 15 to sign someone to a two-way contract. Connor Letourneau,, "Who will get the Warriors’ open 2-way contract? Here are some possibilities," 10 Jan. 2020 There has been some progress on the trade front: The United States and China are expected to sign an agreement on the first phase of talks next week. Patricia Cohen, New York Times, "After a Decade of Hiring, Plenty of Jobs but Raises Are Tiny," 10 Jan. 2020 Nowadays, these guys are forced to sign four-year contracts. Dave Clark,, "Carson Palmer: Cincinnati Bengals 'desperately' need quarterback; Joe Burrow will be great," 10 Jan. 2020 The former players are scheduled to sign autographs 9-10 a.m. and 10:15-11:15 a.m. during the season-ticket holders' session. Marc Bona, cleveland, "What former Indians are scheduled to attend Tribe Fest?," 8 Jan. 2020 That may indicate that the CA still uses SHA1 to sign user keys. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "PGP keys, software security, and much more threatened by new SHA1 exploit," 7 Jan. 2020 President Trump's expected to sign a trade deal with China, January 15th. CBS News, "Transcript: Senator Marco Rubio on "Face the Nation," January 5, 2020," 5 Jan. 2020 Not 2019: the market rang out the old year in celebratory style, apparently cheered by a mini trade deal between America and China, which is due to be signed this month. The Economist, "The soaring stockmarket," 3 Jan. 2020

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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Learn More about sign

Time Traveler for sign

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for sign

Last Updated

13 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sign.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 18 January 2020.

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More Definitions for sign


How to pronounce sign (audio)

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 How to pronounce sign (audio) \

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 How to pronounce sign (audio) \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on sign

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sign

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sign

Spanish Central: Translation of sign

Nglish: Translation of sign for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sign for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about sign

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