sig·ni·fi·er | \ˈsig-nə-ˌfī(-ə)r \

Definition of signifier 

1 : one that signifies

2 : a symbol, sound, or image (such as a word) that represents an underlying concept or meaning — compare signified

Examples of signifier in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

In each instance, Ms. Goldberg challenges and expands our ideas of blackness by conjuring up an audible signifier typically identified with whiteness. Aisha Harris, New York Times, "When Black Performers Use Their ‘White Voice’," 10 July 2018 And at a certain point, dismissing your critics on the basis of signifiers such as race and gender starts to read as defensiveness about the very existence of criticism, specifically negative criticism, in the first place. Justin Chang,, "We need more diversity in film criticism, but 'Who is this movie for?' is the wrong question to ask," 20 June 2018 The puppets in Turkey, Nepal and Indonesia were brightly colored, and hues were symbolic signifiers. Allison Keyes, Smithsonian, "Illuminating the Shadowy Art of Armenian Puppet Theater," 13 July 2018 It has been used to dehumanize and now it's sold as a signifier of cool. Stereo Williams, Billboard, "Kendrick Lamar, Black Language and What White Fans Don't Get About the 'N-Word'," 24 May 2018 His language bristles with signifiers of provocation, but his arguments rarely breach the boundaries of acceptable, liberal-with-qualms opinion. A.o. Scott, New York Times, "In His New Collection, ‘The Rub of Time,’ Martin Amis Takes On Everyone From Travolta to Trump," 28 Feb. 2018 The artist has built a fantastical immersive environment inside the museum’s Grand Avenue location inspired by aspects of Afrofuturism and colloquial signifiers of black identity — a wry re-imagining of the white cube. Carolina A. Miranda,, "Datebook: Shots of old Route 66, dreamlike paintings and garments fashioned from paper," 12 July 2018 Peterson has all of the external signifiers of this type of person without any of the inquisitive rigor. Laurie Penny, Longreads, "Peterson’s Complaint," 12 July 2018 Plus, bikes seemed like an unfairly visible signifier—would the academics have pinned neighborhood changes on the male drivers of a particular make and model of car, for example? Alissa Walker, Curbed, "People are not defined by what we use to get around," 27 June 2018

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

1532, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

9 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for signifier

The first known use of signifier was in 1532

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one that holds something together

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