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 By the same token, that may mean say abrupt goodbyes to those who do not fit with the new culture. Natasha Frost, Quartz at Work, "Boeing’s new CEO needs to do more than listen to fix its broken culture," 29 Jan. 2020 By the same token, thermals may not start falling in the evening until an hour or two before dusk. Matthew Every, Field & Stream, "The Ultimate Deer Hunter’s Guide to Playing the Wind," 2 Dec. 2019 By the same token, few know about anxiety management as intuitively as autistic people, autism rights advocates argue. John Schmid, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Abolishing 'normal' and 'abnormal': How the long-marginalized autism community is becoming a bellwether of social change," 24 Oct. 2019 By the same token, there is a cleansing in opposition, and the millions of Eastern Ukrainians who had once been represented by the Party of Regions were now without any champion in Kyiv. Sam Patten, WIRED, "Kostya and Me: How Sam Patten Got Ensnared in Mueller’s Probe," 14 Aug. 2019 By the same token, activists admit that much of the funding for LGBTQ NGO groups comes from overseas donors. David Mckenzie, CNN, "Progress for gay rights in Africa still isn't inevitable," 10 Aug. 2019 As a token of their undying appreciation, Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer Neil Peart are filming their concert tonight at The Q for a future DVD release. Chuck Yarborough, cleveland, "Neil Peart: an homage to one rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest drummers and lyricists: Chuck Yarborough," 12 Jan. 2020 Upon arrival, each student was given an actual gift as a token of appreciation for their participation. Erick M. Mas, The Conversation, "The science of gift wrapping explains why sloppy is better," 16 Dec. 2019 The Christmas tree is a nearly 70-foot Norwegian Spruce that's been an annual from the city of Oslo since 1947 as a token of Norwegian gratitude to the people of London for their assistance during World War Two. Fox News, "Trafalgar Square Christmas tree in London panned as looking 'a bit thin'," 6 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Across the board, meanwhile, traditional energy executives have been loathe to invest more than token amounts into carbon-free energy, preferring to spend big on new unconventional drilling and exploration. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, "Fossil Fuels Aren’t Even a Very Good Investment," 6 Feb. 2020 At a time when most teams had, if any, only a token minority assistant coach – and before Art Shell became the first African-American head coach in the modern era in 1989 – the 49ers won those Super Bowls with the NFL’s most diverse coaching staff. Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Legendary 49ers coach Bill Walsh left a legacy of opportunity for minority coaches," 24 Jan. 2020 Most players here are betting big, with the smallest token worth $100. Julie Zaugg, CNN, "How Cambodia's backpacker haven became a Chinese casino mecca," 4 Oct. 2019 At the time, half of the Bitcoins was valued at about $4 billion, but the digital token’s price has declined since. Olga Kharif, Fortune, "Bitcoin’s Purported Creator Says His Fortune May Remain Locked," 27 Dec. 2019 Or a token female copy, perhaps?) Here’s Vartika Chaturvedi, played by Shefali Shah, who does not punch villains off the ground or explode into pulpy polemics. Devarsi Ghosh, Quartz India, "From India’s numerous web originals of 2019, these 10 characters stand out," 26 Dec. 2019 Children’s advocates hoped the new law, which Congress passed overwhelmingly in December 1973, would grow stronger over time — gaining political traction and federal dollars — even as critics denounced it as a token effort. Emily Palmer, ProPublica, "The Law Says She Should Have Been Protected From Birth. Instead, She Was Left in the Care of Her Drug-Addicted Mother, Who Killed Her.," 18 Dec. 2019 Instead of simply adding more actors of color to play token parts, Watchmen is criticizing the genre’s preference for reductive (and largely white) male-power fantasies. Shirley Li, The Atlantic, "The Importance of Watchmen’s Latest Twist," 9 Dec. 2019 Among other reasons are the pressures of being a token representative for your gender and a boy’s club mentality. Nicole Carpenter, The Verge, "This infamous Counter-Strike team helped pave the way for women in e-sports," 24 July 2019

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

14 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Token.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for token


How to pronounce token (audio)

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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on token

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for token

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with token

Spanish Central: Translation of token

Nglish: Translation of token for Spanish Speakers

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

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