\ ˈsīn How to pronounce sign (audio) \

Definition of sign

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : 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
4a(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
5a : 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
6a : 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


signed; signing; signs

Definition of sign (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

b : to place a sign on or mark by signs sign a trail
c : to represent or indicate by a sign
2a : 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
2a : to make a sign or signal
b : to use sign language

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Other Words from sign


signee \ ˌsī-​ˈnē How to pronounce signee (audio) \ noun
signer \ ˈsī-​nər How to pronounce signer (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for sign

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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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

Examples of sign in a Sentence

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In Whaley’s case, records show that some of the key warning signs of DKA, including spiking blood sugar and erratic behavior, were present for weeks but didn’t set off alarms. Danny Robbins, ajc, "Diabetic’s death in state prison leads to federal lawsuit," 29 May 2020 Arizona Republic Clad in masks and carrying signs, tensions over the death of a black man in Minnesota simmered in Phoenix over hours, with protesters pushing police and police pushing back. P. Kim Bui, azcentral, "Tensions rise as hundreds in downtown Phoenix protest death of black man in Minnesota," 29 May 2020 Were daily fatalities to remain at today’s level, which is being celebrated as a sign that the pandemic is waning, another 100,000 people would die by the end of the year. The Economist, "The American way How the world’s most powerful country is handling covid-19," 28 May 2020 All signs are pointing toward a resumption in activities, especially with the NCAA approving voluntary workouts for football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball once its current moratorium expires on June 1. Jon Blau, The Indianapolis Star, "Virtual connection between IU football's quarterback and receivers only goes so far," 28 May 2020 The route continued past homemade signs, women walking by to say hello and goodbye. Morgan Krakow, Anchorage Daily News, "‘She brings more than just the mail’: West Anchorage residents say goodbye to longtime mail carrier," 24 May 2020 Two new studies in monkeys offer more signs, though very preliminary, that humans may develop immunity after being vaccinated or recovering from COVID-19. Popular Science, "Studies in monkeys show that coronavirus immunity holds up in vaccine treatments," 22 May 2020 On a normal night, storefronts light up the street with neon signs, beckoning customers with promises of trinkets or ice cold beer. Laura Schulte, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Despite losing out on spring break vacationers, Wisconsin Dells businesses remain optimistic about summer," 22 May 2020 How precious are the signs of what these people actually did, whether open books or sextants or carpenter’s tools; the piano that graces a grave in the City of London, Hogarth’s tomb in Chiswick with his palette and brushes. 1843, "Can words do the dead justice?," 21 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb With Friday’s party-line vote, 217 to 189, as long as the public health emergency persists, lawmakers from Alaska to Florida need not leave the safety of their homes to question witnesses at a hearing, sign subpoenas or vote on legislation. New York Times, "Coronavirus Live Updates: States Reopen With Outbreak Control ‘Right on the Edge’," 16 May 2020 Alan Pulido, the Mexican league’s top goal scorer who signed with Sporting Kansas City last December, tallied two goals and an assist in leading his new team to two wins to start their 2020 campaign. Nick Eilerson,, "Between two countries: Mexicans in MLS contend with crisis back home," 15 May 2020 Brady, the former New England quarterback, recently signed with Tampa Bay. Shawn Windsor, Detroit Free Press, "For two hours, part of Detroit Lions' fan base thought Matthew Stafford was free," 15 May 2020 But, unlike many salons that reopened throughout Indiana Monday, Hunt took an extra step at The Beauty Bar at Geist: requiring that customers sign a COVID-19 liability waiver. Dana Hunsinger Benbow, Indianapolis Star, "Mani, pedi, liability waiver: Salons look very different as they reopen amid pandemic," 15 May 2020 Count Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury among those that believe in Jarrett Stidham, who could end up being Bill Belichick's starting quarterback this season after Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Jeremy Cluff, azcentral, "New England Patriots QB Jarrett Stidham has fan in Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury," 14 May 2020 Yet after some initial enthusiasm—35 states had signed by 1977—the ERA failed to get the necessary confirmation before the deadline in 1979. The Economist, "Steinem v Schlafly “Mrs. America” and the lessons of the ill-fated Equal Rights Amendment," 13 May 2020 That may not have happened if Moore had signed with his hometown college. Lucas Aulbach, The Courier-Journal, "In hindsight: What if Rondale Moore picked Louisville football over Purdue?," 12 May 2020 Recently Berkson, along with more than a dozen other local rabbis, co-signed a memo of guidelines to standardize some of the practices. Sophie Carson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Jewish funerals can't wait for the pandemic to end. But mourners find comfort in virtual communities.," 12 May 2020

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.

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First Known Use of sign


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


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

History and Etymology for sign


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


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

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Time Traveler for sign

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for sign

Last Updated

1 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sign.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for sign


How to pronounce sign (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of sign

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a piece of paper, wood, etc., with words or pictures on it that gives information about something
: something (such as an action or event) which shows that something else exists, is true, or will happen
: a motion, action, or movement that you use to express a thought, command, or wish



English Language Learners Definition of sign (Entry 2 of 2)

: to write (your name) on something
: to write your name on (something) especially to show that you accept, agree with, or will be responsible for something
: to hire (someone) to do something especially by having that person sign a contract


\ ˈsīn How to pronounce sign (audio) \

Kids Definition of sign

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a motion, action, or movement of the hand that means something The teacher made a sign for them to be quiet.
2 : a public notice that advertises something or gives information a stop sign
3 : something that indicates what is present or is to come the first signs of spring
4 : a symbol (as + or ÷) indicating a mathematical operation
5 : one of the twelve parts of the zodiac


signed; signing

Kids Definition of sign (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to put a signature on to show acceptance, agreement, or responsibility His boss signed the order form.
2 : to communicate by using sign language
3 : to represent or show by a motion, action, or movement
4 : to make or place a sign on
sign up
: to sign someone's name in order to get, do, or take something I signed up to go.


\ ˈsīn How to pronounce sign (audio) \

Medical Definition of sign

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

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Legal Definition of sign

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

Other Words from sign

signer noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on sign

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sign

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sign

Spanish Central: Translation of sign

Nglish: Translation of sign for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sign for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about sign

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