sig·​ni·​fy ˈsig-nə-ˌfī How to pronounce signify (audio)
signified; signifying

transitive verb

: to be a sign of : mean
: imply
: to show especially by a conventional token (such as word, signal, or gesture)

intransitive verb

: to have significance : matter
it will not much signify what one wearsJane Austen
: to engage in signifying

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.
Recent Examples on the Web For many, local and statewide raises signify the hope of livability in some of the most expensive cities in the country. Stephanie Breijo, Los Angeles Times, 15 May 2024 The detail signifies the love Bird had for Black people, culture and history. J.m. Banks, Kansas City Star, 14 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for signify 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'signify.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English signifien, from Anglo-French signifier, from Latin significare to indicate, signify, from signum sign

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

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

Dictionary Entries Near signify

Cite this Entry

“Signify.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


sig·​ni·​fy ˈsig-nə-ˌfī How to pronounce signify (audio)
signified; signifying
: to show especially by a sign : make known
signified their agreement by nodding
: to have importance : matter
doesn't signify much what you wear

More from Merriam-Webster on signify

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