symp·​tom | \ˈsim(p)-təm \

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

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Other Words from symptom

symptomless \ˈsim(p)-​təm-​ləs \ 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

Olivia Paregol, 18, died after contracting a form of adenovirus, a common virus that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates can cause a range of symptoms similar to those caused by the common cold. Brittney Mcnamara, Teen Vogue, "A University of Maryland Student Died After Contracting Adenovirus," 21 Nov. 2018 One of the symptoms of this is that you are basically guaranteed to generate random terrorists. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Why social media is friend to far-right politicians around the world," 30 Oct. 2018 Even odder, the same person can have a different series of symptoms at different times. Tony Dajer, Discover Magazine, "Vertigo, Panic and Trouble Breathing: What's Going On Here?," 19 Oct. 2018 During the inspection it was noted that one employee had called in sick, while another who had previously complained of symptoms had returned to work without a doctor’s note declaring them illness-free. Alexandria Hein, Fox News, "More than 60 sickened after eating at Pasha Mediterranean Grill," 6 Sep. 2018 This may be due to the fact that many of the signs and symptoms of early ovarian cancer may be hard for patients or their providers to recognize. Korin Miller, SELF, "Why Is the 5-Year Survival Rate for Ovarian Cancer So Low?," 21 Nov. 2018 When that happens, Dr. Long Gillespie says the symptoms are more widespread. Amy Capetta, Redbook, "6 Signs of UTI That You'll Hopefully Never Experience," 6 Aug. 2018 The other two less common forms are at least more likely to cause more attention-grabbing symptoms. Korin Miller, SELF, "The Three Types of Ovarian Cancer You Should Know," 1 Nov. 2018 Depression isn’t just a mental disorder, but can cause physical symptoms like pain, fatigue, and appetite changes. Brittney Mcnamara, Teen Vogue, "12 Celebrities Who Talk About Mental Health," 10 Oct. 2018

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.

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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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Statistics for symptom

Last Updated

12 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for symptom

The first known use of symptom was in 1541

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More Definitions for symptom



English Language Learners Definition of symptom

: a change in the body or mind which indicates that a disease is present

: a change which shows that something bad exists : a sign of something bad


symp·​tom | \ˈsimp-təm \

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 \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on symptom

Spanish Central: Translation of symptom

Nglish: Translation of symptom for Spanish Speakers

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

Comments on symptom

What made you want to look up symptom? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a nest or breeding place

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