sig·​ni·​fy | \ˈsig-nə-ˌfī \
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


count, import, matter, mean, weigh

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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

For Abbas, too, who moved to Old Bridge, New Jersey, as a young child from Alexandria, Egypt, the film signifies not only a personal dream realized, but also a seed quietly planted for the possibility of a someday-freer Middle East. Noor Brara, Vogue, "The Wedding Director Sam Abbas on What It’s Like to Screen an LGBTQ Film in the Middle East," 7 Nov. 2018 Who decides that these traits actually signify criminality or risk? Diana Budds, Curbed, "Facial recognition is becoming one of the 21st century’s biggest public space issues," 19 Oct. 2018 However, although the empty areas don’t signify deficiencies, the locations of the planets do reveal important information. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "The 12 Astrological Houses: Interpreting Your Birth Chart Beyond the Zodiac," 6 Oct. 2018 But participants at the Anchorage protest said any selection by Trump would signify a shift to the far right for the court. Author: Rachel D'oro, Anchorage Daily News, "Protesters rally at Murkowski’s office over Supreme Court pick," 9 July 2018 The orange-level alert signifies that a combination of sunlight and a lack of wind will cause damaging chemical reactions that form ground-level ozone, a smog-like pollutant, said Amanda Graor, an air quality program manager for MARC. Max Londberg, kansascity, "KC's air will be unhealthy for kids, outdoor enthusiasts and older adults Thursday," 30 May 2018 Square Terminal is a portable all-in-one device that can process payments over Wi-Fi and print out receipts, signifying the company’s focus on expanding its services to more types of sellers and buyers. Dami Lee, The Verge, "Square launches Terminal, an all-in-one device for card and mobile payments," 18 Oct. 2018 The frame will vibrate to indicate a transition to a different tint, with one, two, or three vibrations signifying the current tint level. Tim Newcomb, Popular Mechanics, "Oakley Now Packs 3 Tint Lenses Inside Its Snow Goggles," 11 Oct. 2018 This is the final installment of a three-part series (Jupiter and Pluto previously connected on January 15 and April 14), signifying the completion of a cycle. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "What September's Scorpio Horoscope Means for You," 30 Aug. 2018

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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Statistics for signify

Last Updated

3 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for signify

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

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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

: to have importance


sig·​ni·​fy | \ˈsig-nə-ˌfī \
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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with signify

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for signify

Spanish Central: Translation of signify

Nglish: Translation of signify for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of signify for Arabic Speakers

Comments on signify

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a nest or breeding place

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