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 And while the series is almost a year into the 1850s by the time Cora arrives in North Carolina, Eselin says the clothes signify a step back in time, a regression from South Carolina as seen through Cora’s consciousness. Tomris Laffly, Vulture, 25 May 2021 It is supposed to signify struggle and courage in the face of misfortune. Dorit Baxter, STAT, 19 May 2021 Also last year, Hotel Figueroa would signify the centenary of the ratification of the 19th U.S. Congressional amendment. Michele Herrmann, Forbes, 19 Apr. 2021 For millions, working from home has come to signify higher-end employment. Paul Douglas, Star Tribune, 11 Mar. 2021 Danyelle chose the colors white, to signify purity and innocence, and pink, to symbolize love and kindness. Rashika Jaipuriar, The Indianapolis Star, 7 May 2021 Together, the letters signify a sudden shift in how the business community approaches the voting bills in Texas. New York Times, 4 May 2021 The massive petrified tree trunks dotting the landscape signify an ancient forest once stood where the Black Spire Outpost now thrives. Tarah Chieffi, Travel + Leisure, 3 May 2021 But his also ubiquitous white button-down shirt and crisp red bow tie signify something else. Beth Segal, cleveland, 30 Apr. 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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for signify

Last Updated

31 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Signify.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jun. 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


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