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


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

Those three numbers signify the amount of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium in the fertilizer, in that order. Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics, "How to Mulch Leaves With a Lawn Mower," 20 Sep. 2018 Over a period of seven hours, the astronomers stared at Andromeda and hoped to catch the telltale flicker of light that signified a miniature black hole. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Scientists Rule Out Hawking Theory for Source of Dark Matter," 4 Apr. 2019 The walls were bulbous from moisture which signified the likelihood of mold. Lonnie Firestone, Glamour, "It Took a Fire in My Building to Understand Marie Kondo's Method," 15 Jan. 2019 The green crosses and marijuana leaves that signify marijuana businesses are on display, but there is not much other advertising of the cannabis business in Colorado. Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press, "5 things I found surprising about legal marijuana in Colorado," 12 July 2018 If this is a breakup song, then Alexander and crew have certainly found the chord that signifies the joy in letting go. Raisa Bruner, Time, "5 Songs You Need to Listen to This Week," 11 May 2018 Campaign fundraising is a public metric that can signify the health of a candidate’s bid for public office. Joshua Miller,, "Capuano outraises Pressley in congressional primary race," 3 Apr. 2018 Beginning in 2015, education officials began using college and career readiness indicators tied to benchmarks that signify graduates are ready for that next step. Christopher Harress,, "Woman killed after hit and run on I-65," 26 Mar. 2018 Vanessa also holds her purse with a power clutch that signifies confidence, since the grip is sturdier than daintily holding a bag from above, according to Cobb. Elizabeth Narins, Cosmopolitan, "Signs of Don Jr. and Vanessa's Divorce Date Back to 2004," 16 Mar. 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

21 May 2019

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
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

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

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


highly pertinent or appropriate

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