1 of 2


tele·​graph ˈte-lə-ˌgraf How to pronounce telegraph (audio)
: an apparatus for communication at a distance by coded signals
especially : an apparatus, system, or process for communication at a distance by electric transmission over wire


2 of 2


telegraphed; telegraphing; telegraphs

transitive verb

: to send or communicate by or as if by telegraph
: to send a telegram to
: to send by means of a telegraphic order
: to make known by signs especially unknowingly and in advance
telegrapher noun
telegraphist noun

Examples of telegraph in a Sentence

Noun I sent the message by telegraph. Verb He telegraphed a message to her. Please telegraph when you get there. Please telegraph me when you get there. The look on her face telegraphed bad news. He lost the boxing match because he was telegraphing his punches. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Gisborne needed financing for a project that would extend North America’s existing telegraph system from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland. Robert Klara, Smithsonian Magazine, 15 Feb. 2024 The stated purpose of that expedition was to lay telegraph lines, but Kennan was actually motivated by the same thing that drove so many Victorian explorers: fragile masculinity. W. M. Akers, New York Times, 7 Dec. 2023 New York’s mayor ordered that all overhead telephone and telegraph wires be removed by utility companies and placed in underground conduits. Frederick N. Rasmussen, Baltimore Sun, 23 Jan. 2024 In 1858, the New York Times expressed concerns that the telegraph was leading to a decline in writing standards, as the necessity for brief and concise communication led to widespread abbreviation in writing. Larry Magid, The Mercury News, 18 Jan. 2024 For young foreigners contending with Spain’s repressive society and strict laws, the plaza served as a node in a bush telegraph—a place to exchange survival tips, warnings of risk, and rules of the road. Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker, 8 Jan. 2024 Newsletter Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news On Sept. 1, 1859, the brunt of a solar storm collided with Earth, disabling much of the world’s telegraph system. Matt Hrodey, Discover Magazine, 10 Oct. 2023 The 200-acre grounds sported babbling creeks, a deer park, an aquarium, stables, mock Roman ruins and a private telegraph system. Cooke had founded the first investment bank in the United States, Jay Cooke & Company, a decade earlier. Mickey Butts, Smithsonian Magazine, 18 Sep. 2023 At the beginning of the twentieth century, for example, the British pound played a key role in many international transactions, and a plurality of all global submarine telegraph cables passed through London. Paul Krugman, Foreign Affairs, 6 Dec. 2023
That’s because the former president is telegraphing 60% taxes on all Chinese goods (10% tariffs on all other nations). William Pesek, Forbes, 28 Feb. 2024 Meanwhile, Fox News’ call that Biden had won Arizona—which a Democrat hadn’t done since Clinton’s reelection campaign in 1996—telegraphed that Trump would lose the election. Paolo Confino, Fortune, 7 Feb. 2024 By waiting so long to retaliate, issuing warning after warning, and telegraphing their intention to launch strikes far in advance, the United States and its partners emboldened the militia that dominates much of Yemen. Noam Raydan, Foreign Affairs, 6 Feb. 2024 The Biden administration telegraphed its response over the past week and deliberately avoided crossing the implicit red lines of the Iranian regime — no apparent Iranian personnel were hit, though Iraqi authorities pointed to more than a dozen deaths, including an unspecified number of civilians. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, 4 Feb. 2024 Swift, an expert at making the most of wordless TV cutaways, telegraphed her displeasure with a single swig of her drink. Alison Herman, Variety, 8 Jan. 2024 In a video before the performance, Combs talked about the song’s memorable opening guitar lick, a snippet that expertly telegraphed the performance that was to come: A tight shot on Chapman’s hands playing her acoustic guitar slowly moved up to reveal her face and a broad grin. Joseph Hudak, Rolling Stone, 5 Feb. 2024 Their argument was that the alliance had to telegraph to Russia that continuing the war would not prevent NATO’s enlargement. Alina Polyakova, Foreign Affairs, 1 Feb. 2024 But the group telegraphed confidence with its presidential prospects when speaking with supporters, per the source. Julia Johnson, Washington Examiner, 12 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'telegraph.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



French télégraphe, from télé- tele- (from Greek tēle-) + -graphe -graph

First Known Use


1793, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1806, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of telegraph was in 1793

Dictionary Entries Near telegraph

Cite this Entry

“Telegraph.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
tele·​graph ˈtel-ə-ˌgraf How to pronounce telegraph (audio)
: an electric device or system for sending messages by a code over wires


2 of 2 verb
: to send by or as if by telegraph
telegraphed a message
: to send a telegram to
telegraphed home for money
telegrapher noun
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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