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

The tunes, written to be pretty, are interchangeable, though Old Erich’s nurse, Carmelita, gets a Latin rhythm for her number, a heavy-handed signifier of her ethnicity. Heidi Waleson, WSJ, "‘Taking Up Serpents’ and ‘Dear Erich’ Reviews: Operas Haunted by the Past," 15 Jan. 2019 These images of destruction are also signifiers of a new start on the horizon. Hadley Mendelsohn, House Beautiful, "The Surprising Meaning Behind Easter Colors," 22 Mar. 2019 The boatneck is a signifier of old-timey glamour and buttoned-up money, which should translate to positive polish. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, "In Defense of Meghan Markle’s Beloved Boatneck Dress," 30 July 2018 The application’s claims are broad, so this hypothetical system could be either extremely specific — like cross-referencing faces — or extremely comprehensive, like analyzing photos for brands or other signifiers. Adi Robertson, The Verge, "A Facebook patent would use your family photos to target ads," 15 Nov. 2018 Vultures offer many social signifiers to their peers. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Vultures Use Social Networks to Share Crucial Flight Information," 8 Nov. 2018 With smart home devices, increasing urban density, and lifestyle shifts, will home, and the signifiers of place, keep shifting? Otero-Pailos says the museum idea needs to be reimagined in light of cultural shifts in audiences. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Rethinking the modern house museum," 12 Oct. 2018 Each character has a clear sartorial signifier: Betty Cooper with her sweaters and Peter Pan collars, Archie Andrews with his letterman jacket, Jughead Jones with his beanie, Veronica Lodge with her pearls... Ana Colón, Glamour, "How to Make Your Own," 5 Oct. 2018 Fetish signifiers seem to be more prevalent than ever, both in fashion and in popular culture at large. Rachel Hahn, Vogue, "Ladyfag and Opening Ceremony Release an Exclusive Capsule Collection of Hanky Code Bandanas and T-Shirts for Pride Month," 14 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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Statistics for signifier

Last Updated

22 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for signifier

The first known use of signifier was in 1532

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More from Merriam-Webster on signifier

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with signifier

Comments on signifier

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


a strong desire or propensity

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