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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Did You Know?

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 The Great Conjunction is also happening at 0 degrees, which signifies a completely new beginning. Amelia Quint, Allure, "How to Prepare Your Career and Love Life For 2020's Great Conjunction," 6 Feb. 2020 This is also the first full moon of the new Chinese New Year, which signifies the end of Chinese New Year celebrations and the day of the Chinese Lantern festival. Justin Lear, CNN, "A Snow Moon, the first supermoon of 2020, will light up the sky this weekend," 5 Feb. 2020 Superficially, the kinship made sense: both Jackson and Trump were wealthy men whose elections signified a populist turn in American politics. Jelani Cobb, The New Yorker, "Trump, Impeachment, and the Short-Term Thinking of the G.O.P.," 26 Jan. 2020 For fitness fanatics everywhere (and those of us who wholeheartedly believe that leggings are pants), that little symbol signifies quality, comfort, and support. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "Here's What the Lululemon Logo Actually Means," 21 Jan. 2020 The latter would signify a virus that is adept at infecting humans. Helen Branswell, STAT, "WHO raises possibility of ‘sustained’ human-to-human transmission of new virus in China," 21 Jan. 2020 Along with food, music, and, briefly, religious practices, nicknames too signify a vernacular outlook. Dohra Ahmad, The New York Review of Books, "A Lark in West Indian London," 10 Jan. 2020 Even subtle changes in language signify a move forward. Michelle Matthews |, al, "Here’s what Karin Korb wants you to know about people with disabilities," 7 Jan. 2020 Anugraha or blessing or liberation: The raised left foot, combined with the closed hand, signifies the option available before the seeker: moksha or liberation from ignorance and, by implication, from the cycle of birth and death. Harish Pullanoor, Quartz India, "How the Indian icon Nataraja danced his way from ancient history to modern physics," 18 Dec. 2019

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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for signify

Last Updated

12 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Signify.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for signify


How to pronounce signify (audio)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on signify

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for signify

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with signify

Spanish Central: Translation of signify

Nglish: Translation of signify for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of signify for Arabic Speakers

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