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


denote, express, import, intend, mean, spell

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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

Capdeville opened in 2010 and was one of the first New Orleans businesses to embrace the gastropub label, signifying it as a bar that takes food seriously. Brett Anderson,, "Capdeville, a New Orleans gastropub, closed, leaving employees unpaid," 9 May 2018 The company traces its history back to Standard Oil, the name oil titan John D. Rockefeller gave to his powerful monopoly to signify control, order and uniform quality. Bradley Olson, WSJ, "Exxon, Once a ‘Perfect Machine,’ Is Running Dry," 13 July 2018 For instance, the little flowers on the Balance Shot are actually four circles coming together to signify the four benefits of the product coming together. Devon Abelman, Allure, "Tarte Helps Relaunch Its Sister Skin-Care Brand, Awake," 26 June 2018 The sound, meant to signify dangerous weather conditions, had engulfed their lives since early December. Keith Bierygolick,, "They moved from Mason to CA. Then, disaster hit: 'It felt like being inside a trash compactor'," 21 June 2018 My final walk into Unit 42 (the Pediatric Cancer Unit) and ringing the bell to signify the end of my cancer treatments. Jordan Culver, Pro Soccer USA, "Orlando City goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar completes chemotherapy treatment for bone cancer," 20 June 2018 In our post–Fenty Beauty world, having 40 shades appears to be the new way to signify an inclusive foundation range. Shannon Barbour, The Cut, "ColourPop Just Launched 42 Shades of Foundation," 18 June 2018 The bumper sticker was a way to signify that the person was part of a large majority that didn't vote the governor into office. Grace Sparks, CNN, "These governors were elected with very few votes. Is that a problem?," 13 June 2018 Each rock is hidden in the city of Coldspring with a tag placed on it to signify its connection to CAAL’s project. Jacob Mcadams, Houston Chronicle, "Coldspring library rocks on with painted rocks," 13 June 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

8 Oct 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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Comments on signify

What made you want to look up signify? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to reject or criticize sharply

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