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

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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 Brooks is a symptom of what ails today's conservatism. Star Tribune, "William F. Buckley would weep at the CPAC circus coming to Orlando," 25 Feb. 2021 Blackouts and other infrastructure failures are only a symptom of the pressing and increasingly frequent climate emergencies. WSJ, "Energy Policy After the Texas Blackouts," 23 Feb. 2021 The lack of care for Bri’s career bombshell is simply a symptom. Ariana Romero,, "The Bachelor Brushed Past Bri’s Life-Altering Reveal. It’s Part Of A Much Bigger Problem," 16 Feb. 2021 High blood pressure is a symptom of preeclampsia, which can cause seizures, stroke, and even death in the birth parent. Eva Holland, Wired, "Premature Babies and the Lonely Terror of a Pandemic NICU," 11 Feb. 2021 The cross-border rush is a symptom of vaccine supply constraints resulting in long wait times, and state eligibility requirements that make some people eligible for a vaccine in one state but not the other. Emily Woodruff,, "Here's the process for getting coronavirus vaccines in Mississippi compared to Louisiana," 4 Feb. 2021 Safety precautions — including a limit of one visitor at a time, temperature and symptom screenings and social distancing — during visits are still being enforced. Annie Berman, Anchorage Daily News, "After more than 10 months in lockdown, the Anchorage Pioneer Home opens to families and visitors," 4 Feb. 2021 This July, Gray celebrated a year of being symptom-free. Megan Molteni, Wired, "2020 Was a Breakout Year for Crispr," 28 Dec. 2020 Researchers found that people who had one shot were less likely than those in the placebo group to have symptom-free infections in their noses — and therefore less likely to be contagious. New York Times, "Moderna Vaccine Is Highly Protective Against Covid-19, the F.D.A. Finds," 15 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for symptom Time Traveler

The first known use of symptom was in 1541

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Statistics for symptom

Last Updated

27 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Symptom.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
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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 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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