sign

1 of 2

noun

1
a
: a motion or gesture by which a thought is expressed or a command or wish made known
c
: a fundamental linguistic unit that designates an object or relation or has a purely syntactic function
signs include words, morphemes, and punctuation
d
: one of a set of gestures used to represent language
also : sign language
2
: a mark having a conventional meaning and used in place of words or to represent a complex notion
3
: one of the 12 divisions of the zodiac
4
a(1)
: a character (such as a flat or sharp) used in musical notation
(2)
: segno
b
: a character (such as ÷) indicating a mathematical operation
also : one of two characters + and − that form part of the symbol of a number and characterize it as positive or negative
5
a
: a display (such as a lettered board or a configuration of neon tubing) used to identify or advertise a place of business or a product
b
: a posted command, warning, or direction
c
6
a
: something material or external that stands for or signifies something spiritual
b
: something indicating the presence or existence of something else
signs of success
a sign of the times
c
: presage, portent
signs of an early spring
d
: an objective evidence of plant or animal disease
7
plural usually sign : traces of a usually wild animal
red fox sign

sign

2 of 2

verb

signed; signing; signs

transitive verb

1
b
: to place a sign on or mark by signs
sign a trail
c
: to represent or indicate by a sign
2
a
: to affix a signature to : ratify or attest by hand or seal
sign a bill into law
sign a confession
b
: to assign or convey formally
signed over his property to his brother
c
: to write down (one's name)
d
: to affix one's name to
a signed review
3
: to communicate by making a sign or by sign language
4
: to engage or hire by securing the signature of on a contract of employment
often used with up or on

intransitive verb

1
: to write one's name in token of assent, responsibility, or obligation
signed for the packages
signed with the team for one season
2
a
: to make a sign or signal
b
: to use sign language
signee noun
signer noun
Choose the Right Synonym for sign

sign, mark, token, note, symptom mean a discernible indication of what is not itself directly perceptible.

sign applies to any indication to be perceived by the senses or the reason.

encouraging signs for the economy

mark suggests something impressed on or inherently characteristic of a thing often in contrast to general outward appearance.

a mark of a good upbringing

token applies to something that serves as a proof of something intangible.

this gift is a token of our esteem

note suggests a distinguishing mark or characteristic.

a note of irony in her writing

symptom suggests an outward indication of an internal change or condition.

rampant crime is a symptom of that city's decay

Example Sentences

Noun The sign in the store window says “OPEN.” After you get off the highway, follow the signs for Route 25. He ran the stop sign. There was a “For Sale” sign on the car. All the signs point to him as the guilty party. She ignored me, which was a sure sign that she was mad at me. “The company called me in for a second interview.” “That's a good sign.” It was a bad sign that he couldn't walk on the injured leg. There are plenty of warning signs that the company is in danger of bankruptcy. They bowed before the king as a sign of respect. Verb Sign your name on the bottom line. She met with fans and signed autographs. Please sign at the bottom of the application. You forgot to sign the document. He was forced to sign the confession. The contract was signed by both parties. The author will be signing copies of his books today. The contract should be signed, sealed, and delivered by tomorrow. The team signed the pitcher to a three-year contract. He is signed to a three-year contract. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
That said, friends and community are important to most people, and the fact that your wife has no interest in forming those connections could be a sign of depression. Annie Lane, cleveland, 17 Nov. 2022 In additional, provisional ballots, which can be a sign of how many voters showed up to the wrong polling site but still cast a ballot, dropped from 9,759 in the 2018 general election to 6,192 this year. Alice Yin, Chicago Tribune, 18 Nov. 2022 To some critics, this was a sign of the end times, the end of art, the end of human artists. Kevin Kelly, WIRED, 17 Nov. 2022 The chirp was unusually short, and there is no sign of a signal prior to the actual merger. John Timmer, Ars Technica, 17 Nov. 2022 Click took the job in 2020 in the wake of the sign-stealing scandal and helped put together a team that was 28-14 in postseason games over three seasons, twice reaching the Series. Peter Abraham, BostonGlobe.com, 12 Nov. 2022 Click and Baker were brought in after general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were fired for their roles in Houston's 2017-18 sign-stealing scandal. Ronald Blum, Chron, 9 Nov. 2022 His new team was also about to be punished by Major League Baseball for a 2017 sign-stealing scandal. Jeffrey Loria, WSJ, 7 Nov. 2022 The sign-stealing scandal cost then-GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch their jobs. David K. Li, NBC News, 6 Nov. 2022
Verb
Houston Astros owner Jim Crane has already expressed his desire to re-sign ace Justin Verlander in free agency, but a return to Houston in 2023 is no guarantee for the three-time Cy Young winner. Michael Shapiro, Chron, 20 Nov. 2022 Childers also said the city needs to clarify the policy on who can sign a contract because department heads have signed contracts in the past. Eplunus Colvin, Arkansas Online, 19 Nov. 2022 The majority will not get drafted and many will sign as UDFAs or get camp invites. Josh Newman, The Salt Lake Tribune, 17 Nov. 2022 While the environment ministry is keen to accelerate the buildout of renewables, Behrens said, influential officials in the ministry of industry and trade are in no hurry to phase out fossil fuels or sign a deal asking them to do so. Tim Mcdonnell, Quartz, 14 Nov. 2022 As this newfound focus on overall well-being shows no signs of slowing down, benefit packages and perks will assuredly remain a critical factor in the decision to remain with a company, or sign the dotted line with a prospective employer. Alexandra Gotts, Fortune, 12 Nov. 2022 Later on, Al Fayed would sign a 50-year lease of the property, with the intent of restoring the home to its former splendor. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, 12 Nov. 2022 The Yankees would like to re-sign Judge, general manager Brian Cashman said throughout the week. Lindsey Adler, WSJ, 11 Nov. 2022 When they are hired by PSSI, workers sign paperwork assuming the risk of death and injury on the job, NBC News reported last year. Julianne Mcshane, NBC News, 11 Nov. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sign.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English signe, from Anglo-French, from Latin signum mark, token, sign, image, seal; perhaps akin to Latin secare to cut — more at saw

Verb

Middle English, from Anglo-French signer, from Latin signare to mark, sign, seal, from signum

First Known Use

Noun

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

Verb

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near sign

Cite this Entry

“Sign.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sign. Accessed 1 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

sign 1 of 2

noun

1
a
: a motion, action, or movement of the hand by which a thought is expressed or a command or wish made known
made a sign for them to be quiet
2
: a mark having a generally understood meaning and used in place of words
3
: one of the 12 parts of the zodiac
4
a
: a symbol (as a flat or sharp) used in musical notation
b
: a symbol (as ÷ or √‾) indicating a mathematical operation
also : one of two symbols + and − characterizing a number as positive or negative
5
: a public notice that advertises something or gives information
6
a
: something that indicates what is present or is to come
no sign of life
first signs of spring
b
: something that provides evidence of plant or animal disease

sign

2 of 2

verb

1
a
: to make or place a sign on
b
: to represent or indicate by a sign
2
: to write one's name on to show that one accepts, agrees with, or is responsible for
sign a check
sign a letter
sign a contract
3
: to hire by getting to sign something (as a contract)
sign a new ball player
4
: to use sign language
signee noun
signer noun

Medical Definition

sign

noun

1
: one of a set of gestures used to represent language
2
: an objective evidence of disease especially as observed and interpreted by the physician rather than by the patient or lay observer
narrow retinal vessels are a sign of arteriosclerosis
see brudzinski sign, chvostek's sign, homans' sign, kernig sign, physical sign, placental sign, romberg's sign, tinel's sign, vital signs, von graefe's sign compare symptom

Legal Definition

1
: to affix a signature to : ratify or attest by hand or seal
sign a bill into law
specifically : to write or mark something (as a signature) on (a document) as an acknowledgment of one's intention to be bound by it
2
: to assign or convey formally
signed the property over to his brother
signer noun

More from Merriam-Webster on sign

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