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sig·​ni·​fy·​ing ˈsig-nə-ˌfī-iŋ How to pronounce signifying (audio)
variants or less commonly signifyin' or signifyin
African American English
: an African American linguistic practice involving the indirect expression of ideas especially through playful gibes and clever often preposterous put-downs
"Twitter lets the Black community do the thing that it does best, which is signifying—being able to use wordplay or turns of phrase to change the meaning of certain events, to either be more humorous or more critical."André Brock
Subjects of signifyin range from physical appearance to Black institutions to current global affairs, and everything in between.Shingi Mavima
also : dozens


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present participle of signify

Examples of signifying in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
But after 162 games, the finished product at Meyer’s home in New Windsor displayed Baltimore’s first winning season since 2016 in a unique way — with orange representing home wins, black signifying road wins and white and grey reserved for home and road losses. Andy Kostka, Baltimore Sun, 14 Oct. 2022 These categories are allegories for broader economic processes that a single word is incapable of signifying. Wired, 14 July 2022 Many immigrant communities have a form of signifying. Jason Parham, Wired, 15 July 2021 His millennial-friendly update to such signifying was to rebrand it all as a personal affirmation. Chris Martins, Billboard, 8 June 2017

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

Word History

First Known Use


1926, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of signifying was in 1926

Dictionary Entries Near signifying

Cite this Entry

“Signifying.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2023.

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