symp·​tom | \ ˈsim(p)-təm How to pronounce symptom (audio) \

Definition of symptom

1a : subjective evidence of disease or physical disturbance broadly : something that indicates the presence of bodily disorder
b : an evident reaction by a plant to a pathogen
2a : something that indicates the existence of something else symptoms of an inner turmoil
b : a slight indication : trace

Other Words from symptom

symptomless \ ˈsim(p)-​təm-​ləs How to pronounce symptom (audio) \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for symptom

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 symptom in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Even though hot flashes are a common symptom experienced by the majority of women who go through menopause, most of them do not seek out treatment for them — only about 27%, according to a 2021 survey of more than 1,000 menopausal women. Stephanie Anderson Witmer, Good Housekeeping, 11 May 2022 Enlargement of the prostate frequently causes partial obstruction of the urethra, and having to push to begin urinating is a common symptom of prostate enlargement in men. Dr. Keith Roach, oregonlive, 11 May 2022 Chest pain is the most frequent symptom of heart attack for both men and women. Julie Washington, cleveland, 10 May 2022 The leak may be more a symptom of that decline than a cause. Amy Davidson Sorkin, The New Yorker, 8 May 2022 Whether the prevailing theory is right or not, the leak is yet another symptom of accelerating institutional breakdown. Samuel Goldman, The Week, 4 May 2022 Unintentional weight loss is a common symptom of health conditions that cause malnutrition (when your small intestine can’t absorb enough nutrients)—and this is especially true with celiac disease. Eleesha Lockett, SELF, 3 May 2022 Brain fog and memory loss are a common symptom of long COVID. Jasmine Browley, Essence, 26 Apr. 2022 Seasonal allergies do not usually cause shortness of breath, which is a symptom consistent with COVID, unless the person has a respiratory condition like asthma. Tori B. Powell, CBS News, 14 Apr. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of symptom

1541, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for symptom

Late Latin symptomat-, symptoma, from Greek symptōmat-, symptōma happening, attribute, symptom, from sympiptein to happen, from syn- + piptein to fall — more at feather

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Time Traveler for symptom

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The first known use of symptom was in 1541

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Last Updated

22 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Symptom.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for symptom


symp·​tom | \ ˈsimp-təm How to pronounce symptom (audio) \

Kids Definition of symptom

1 : a noticeable change in the body or its functions that indicates the presence of a disease or other disorder
2 : indication sense 2, sign Loss of jobs is a symptom of a weakening economy.


symp·​tom | \ ˈsim(p)-təm How to pronounce symptom (audio) \

Medical Definition of symptom

: subjective evidence of disease or physical disturbance observed by the patient headache is a symptom of many diseases visual disturbances may be a symptom of retinal arteriosclerosis broadly : something that indicates the presence of a physical disorder — compare sign sense 2


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