to·​ken | \ ˈtō-kən How to pronounce token (audio) \

Definition of token

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a piece resembling a coin issued for use (as for fare on a bus) by a particular group on specified terms
b : a piece resembling a coin issued as money by some person or body other than a de jure government
c : a unit of a cryptocurrency Bitcoin tokens
2 : an outward sign or expression his tears were tokens of his grief
3a : symbol, emblem a white flag is a token of surrender
b : an instance of a linguistic expression
b : a small part representing the whole : indication this is only a token of what we hope to accomplish
c : something given or shown as a guarantee (as of authority, right, or identity)
5 : a member of a group (such as a minority) that is included within a larger group through tokenism especially : a token employee
6 : a distinguishing feature : characteristic
by the same token
: for the same reason



Definition of token (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : representing no more than a symbolic effort : minimal, perfunctory token resistance token integration
b : serving or intended to show absence of discrimination a token female employee
2 : done or given as a token especially in partial fulfillment of an obligation or engagement a token payment

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Choose the Right Synonym for token


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 token in a Sentence

Noun please accept this parting gift as a token of our lasting affection Adjective All the people who work there are men except for a couple of token women. The ad campaign features a few token minorities.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun And, by the same token, men can provide excellent support. Grace Huckins, Wired, "As More Women Enter Science, It’s Time to Redefine Mentorship," 11 Feb. 2021 The basic structure of the system the researchers devised looks like this: Each local official who manages the gun registry data in their county would hold the encryption key for that data on a physical authentication token, like a Yubikey. Lily Hay Newman, Wired, "This Encrypted Gun Registry Might Bridge a Partisan Divide," 29 Jan. 2021 By the same token, the lower efficacy against that variant could be a vulnerability in the United States, where it was first reported in South Carolina on Thursday, and elsewhere. Matthew Herper, STAT, "Novavax says its Covid-19 vaccine is 90% effective, but far less so against one variant," 28 Jan. 2021 But by the same token, U.S., British, and Russian territorial guarantees given to Ukraine in 1994 in exchange for its handover of 1,500 Soviet-era nuclear weapons similarly turned out to be worthless when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. Jamie Mcintyre, Washington Examiner, "Rethinking North Korea: How bad would it be to let Kim Jong Un keep his nuclear weapons?," 19 Nov. 2020 By the same token, this coronavirus could evolve to cause a somewhat less severe illness—something slightly closer to that caused by the other four endemic coronaviruses. James Hamblin, The Atlantic, "The Evolution of the Coronavirus," 15 Jan. 2021 The additional compensation is considered a token of appreciation toward the school workers who have spent the past eight months juggling virtual and in-person education during the coronavirus pandemic. al, "Move over Clark Griswold: Alabama schools dishing out bonuses during coronavirus," 15 Dec. 2020 The man walked him to the train station and gave him a token. Jennifer Hauser, CNN, "How a homeless man found his way and now feeds hundreds a day," 15 Dec. 2020 Have an employee of the week, and give them a small token such as a cake or a small gift card. Washington Post, "Hints From Heloise: No phones on first dates," 14 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective What’s even more progressive: The electorate is not left with token choices but exceptional candidates., "Is it a foregone conclusion that Boston’s next mayor won’t be a white male?," 7 Feb. 2021 Speaking of beloved comedies, this movie about Sandra Bullock’s fare-token collector crushing on a handsome commuter includes a pivotal New Year’s Eve scene that also features his brother (and her eventual love interest), played by Bill Pullman. Washington Post, "Stuck at home for New Year’s Eve? Celebrate with festive scenes from these 15 movies.," 30 Dec. 2020 Dickensian tales of token Indian individual exceptionalism, as if to say: Homeless, hungry, and uncertain of your fate? Karthik Purushothaman, The New Republic, "The White Tiger Inverts the Indian Rags-to-Riches Story," 2 Feb. 2021 Marcia Fudge publicly lobbied to be named Biden’s secretary of agriculture and described HUD as a token appointment for Black cabinet members. Mike Spies, ProPublica, "The Chosen Who Biden Is Putting in Power," 21 Dec. 2020 The company slashed its dividend to a token penny a share. Dave Michaels And Thomas Gryta, WSJ, "GE to Pay $200 Million to Settle SEC Accounting Probe," 10 Dec. 2020 On Monday, the token briefly surpassed its high set three years ago. Claire Ballentine,, "Bitcoin Drops From All-Time High After Failing to Hit $20,000," 1 Dec. 2020 There are bright spots in the token economy, including Tezos, which raised over $200 million in 2017 and, despite early controversies, has built a popular network for smart contracts. Jeff John Roberts, Fortune, "Are blockchain companies cursed with too much cash?," 19 Aug. 2020 For a while, this writer was the token male in the group. Kevin Dayhoff,, "Dayhoff: Year of the Woman honors anniversary of 19th Amendment passage," 20 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'token.' 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 token


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2


1915, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for token


Middle English, from Old English tācen, tācn sign, token; akin to Old High German zeihhan sign, Greek deiknynai to show — more at diction

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Time Traveler for token

Time Traveler

The first known use of token was before the 12th century

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Statistics for token

Last Updated

18 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Token.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for token



English Language Learners Definition of token

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a round piece of metal or plastic that is used instead of money in some machines : an object that looks like a coin and is used in place of a coin
: something that is a symbol of a feeling, event, etc.



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

used to describe something that is done with very little effort and only to give the appearance that an effort is being made
: included in a group only to prevent criticism that people of a particular kind are being unfairly left out


to·​ken | \ ˈtō-kən How to pronounce token (audio) \

Kids Definition of token

1 : an outer sign : proof “… you ought to take this for a plain and visible token that you are not to be a seafaring man.”— Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe
2 : a piece like a coin that has a special use a bus token
3 : an object used to suggest something that cannot be pictured This ring is a token of my affection.
4 : souvenir

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