sig·​ni·​fy | \ ˈsig-nə-ˌfī How to pronounce signify (audio) \
signified; signifying

Definition of signify

transitive verb

1a : to be a sign of : mean
b : imply
2 : to show especially by a conventional token (such as word, signal, or gesture)

intransitive verb

1 : to have significance : matter it will not much signify what one wears— Jane Austen
2 : to engage in signifying

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Synonyms for signify


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Signify basically means "to make a sign or signal". One of its synonyms is indicate; the index finger is the finger you point with, so to indicate is essentially to point to something. Significant means "important" and significance means "importance;" similarly, insignificant means "unimportant" and insignificance means "lack of importance".

Examples of signify in a Sentence

A check mark next to your name signifies that you have met all the requirements. The recent decline of the stock market does not necessarily signify the start of a recession. He gave her a diamond ring to signify his love. Whether he agrees or not does not signify.
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Recent Examples on the Web As medical science has advanced, experts in the industry said, pathologists have been asked to do more, such as looking for more advanced patterns in body tissue to signify a disease is present., 26 July 2021 For instance, ear piercing, also known as karnavedha in Hinduism, is one of the 16 sanskar rituals that mark stages of life and signify cultural heritage and upbringing. Angelina Ruiz, Allure, 22 July 2021 The torch will arrive at the new, roofless National Olympic Stadium on Friday and ignite the caldron to signify the opening of the Games. Mark Zeigler, San Diego Union-Tribune, 22 July 2021 Whatever that means Carousels have previously been used in music to signify time passing. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, 21 July 2021 The base is meant to signify the struggles of women. Washington Post, 17 July 2021 Reunification quickly came to signify the integration of the East into the West rather than anything like a compromise. Lauren Oyler, The New Yorker, 14 July 2021 Ahead of the final, viral memes have shown a map of Europe covered in Italian flags to signify the support of every other country on the continent. Matias Grez, CNN, 11 July 2021 His followers added suffixes like Ali, Bey, or El to their last names to signify their Moorish heritage. Andrea Marks, Rolling Stone, 7 July 2021

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

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

History and Etymology for signify

Middle English signifien, from Anglo-French signifier, from Latin significare to indicate, signify, from signum sign

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Time Traveler for signify

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

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Last Updated

30 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Signify.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for signify



English Language Learners Definition of signify

: to be a sign of (something) : to mean (something)
: to show (your feelings, intentions, opinions, etc.) by doing something
formal + somewhat old-fashioned : to have importance


sig·​ni·​fy | \ ˈsig-nə-ˌfī How to pronounce signify (audio) \
signified; signifying

Kids Definition of signify

1 : mean entry 1 sense 1, denote A check mark signifies a correct answer.
2 : to show especially by a sign : make known She nodded to signify agreement.
3 : to have importance : matter "It doesn't signify what you THINK … Facts is facts."— Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

More from Merriam-Webster on signify

Nglish: Translation of signify for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of signify for Arabic Speakers


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