sig·​ni·​fi·​er | \ ˈsig-nə-ˌfī(-ə)r How to pronounce signifier (audio) \

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 For reasons too convoluted to explore here, wearing protective gear—which is overwhelmingly proven to prevent the spread of Covid-19—has been turned into a political signifier, or a measure of one’s masculinity. Matt Bean, Sunset Magazine, "I Spent Hours at an Airport and Discovered Just How Terrifying It Is to Fly Now," 18 June 2020 To that extent, Black Lives Matter exists as a floating signifier that can find a home in most European cities and beyond. Gary Younge, The New York Review of Books, "What Black America Means to Europe," 6 June 2020 That sort of thing is usually a signifier for pretentiousness or embarrassment. Marilynne Robinson, The New York Review of Books, "What Kind of Country Do We Want?," 27 May 2020 His album art is by Takashi Murakami, that empty aesthete signifier who favors exuberant simplicity. Jon Caramanica, New York Times, "Bad Bunny Finds Gold in the Past, While J Balvin Is Trapped in the Future," 26 Mar. 2020 The first two seasons, in particular, try to analyze layers of race, class, and generational interactions, replete with didactic cutaways, nonverbal signifiers of accomplishment via hyperconsumption, and hand-wringing identity crises. Shamira Ibrahim, The Atlantic, "You’ve Already Seen #BlackAF," 26 Apr. 2020 Her family walked distant viewers through the offerings, adding optional signifiers. Nathan Heller, The New Yorker, "Trying Not to Jewbarrass the Guests at a Socially Distant Passover," 20 Apr. 2020 Part of accruing social and professional capital as a musician means that knowing a famous musician or rising artist on a personal level can act like a signifier of one’s talent and status in the music world. Ashley Fetters, The Atlantic, "Classical Music Has a ‘God Status’ Problem," 31 Jan. 2020 Might their function primarily be as cultural and personal signifiers about aspiring to less? Cody Delistraty, WSJ, "Become a Minimalist—Buy More Stuff," 30 Jan. 2020

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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Time Traveler for signifier

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The first known use of signifier was in 1532

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Statistics for signifier

Last Updated

4 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Signifier.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jul. 2020.

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