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 Betts said on Wednesday evening, referring to the red and gold pin that master sommeliers affix to their lapels to signify their status. Esther Mobley,, "Court of Master Sommeliers, facing racism charges, to eliminate “master” address," 19 June 2020 However referee Michael Oliver's watch failed to buzz and signify that the entire ball had crossed the line -- which subsequent TV replays seemed to indicate had clearly happened. Glen Levy, CNN, "Premier League players take a knee -- and make a stand," 17 June 2020 The Globe explained that the word has evolved from a description of a person's skin color to signify a race and culture, and deserves the uppercase treatment, much like Latinos get. David Bauder, The Christian Science Monitor, "What's in a word? US newsrooms move to capitalize 'Black.'," 16 June 2020 There is also hope that the presence of certain antibodies may signify immunity to future infection—a possibility scientists are still investigating. Sarah Lewin Frasier, Scientific American, "Coronavirus Antibody Tests Have a Mathematical Pitfall," 16 June 2020 No, Josh Gad's wildly long hair and beard do not signify his COVID-19 quarantine has gone out of control. Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY, "How 'Artemis Fowl' star Josh Gad became the king of COVID-19 quarantine," 11 June 2020 Fashion is statecraft, and liberal politicians in general love the accessory or the flourish that can be extrapolated to signify seductive class solidarity. Doreen St. Félix, The New Yorker, "The Embarrassment of Democrats Wearing Kente-Cloth Stoles," 9 June 2020 Tier 2 will signify the return to single-day events (club shows), while multi-day events (tournaments) will resume in Tier 3. John Whisler,, "Boxing, MMA awaiting word from governor on reopening," 4 June 2020 Tables have been separated for social distancing (green markers signify an open clean table). Kathy Flanigan, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Guide to Milwaukee-area beer gardens, 2020 safety protocols edition," 3 June 2020

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

23 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Signify.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jul. 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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