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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web So, what does inflation signify for current CRE investments? Marc Deluca, Forbes, 18 July 2022 So close in fact that Franklin momentarily celebrated the ball hitting the back of the cage, only for the referee’s whistle to signify a foul had occurred first, and a penalty corner was awarded instead., 12 Oct. 2021 Added in 1933 On Chicago Day at the 1933 World's Fair, Mayor Edward Joseph Kelly was to present fair President Rufus C. Dawes with a flag to signify the selection of the event as the third star in the city's flag. Kori Rumore,, 10 Sep. 2021 The students argued that such flags can signify support for white supremacists and hostility to the Black Lives Matter movement, and that a business with those sentiments should not have a campus outlet. Daniel Golden, ProPublica, 4 July 2022 The strap of a rifle carried by one captor has a small yellow section, the other main color used to signify Ukrainian allegiance. Joyce Sohyun Lee, Jon Swaine And Miriam Berger, Anchorage Daily News, 29 Mar. 2022 Standing at 11 feet tall and weighing in at 6,000 pounds, the statue shows Bethune in a cap and gown to signify her dedication to education. NBC News, 20 Dec. 2021 According to Forbes seeing the crescent moon will signify the start of Ramadan 2021. Fiza Pirani, ajc, 8 Apr. 2022 The trouble is that no individual can simply override social and semantic norms and decide what the utterance of a word will signify. New York Times, 5 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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

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

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Last Updated

11 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Signify.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for signify


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

More from Merriam-Webster on signify

Nglish: Translation of signify for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of signify for Arabic Speakers


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