to·​ken | \ˈtō-kən \

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

4a : souvenir, keepsake

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


please accept this parting gift as a token of our lasting affection


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

Several tables in the chapel’s entranceway displayed tokens of McNamara’s life and career. Chris Kaltenbach,, "Capital Gazette's John McNamara eulogized as exemplary reporter who loved sports, community journalism," 10 July 2018 Shalev presented Kurz with a token of remembrance and appreciation: a facsimile copy of the collection of 99 works of art created by Holocaust victim Carol Deutsch for his daughter, depicting scenes from the Bible. Yossi Lempkowicz, Jewish Journal, "Austrian leader visits Yad Vashem, Western Wall as part of Israel visit," 13 June 2018 So, in preparation of wrangling a pint-sized bridal party of ten, Lubomirski readied his camera and cleverly filled his pockets with no-fail tokens of bribery—pure sugar. Megan Decker, Harper's BAZAAR, "Alexi Lubomirski Had to Bribe the Royal Bridal Party with Candy to Get the Perfect Shot," 24 May 2018 The attorney general’s office said Browsers Lab used its website to pitch the sale of tokens that would be used to create a new market., "Maryland Attorney General's office issues cease-and-desist against Windsor Mill firm's initial coin offering," 22 May 2018 Some users may interact with one another through the use of digital tokens, that, similar to bitcoin, can be earned by developers to build up their reputation within the 8base ecosystem. Rob Wile, miamiherald, "He created two high profile health tech companies. Now he’s focusing on blockchain | Miami Herald," 28 Mar. 2018 By the same token, if Bergé likes you, his approval can make all the difference. James Mcauley, Town & Country, "Was Pierre Bergé the Most Powerful Man In France?," 8 Sep. 2017 However, Glencoe residents with beach tokens can go to Winnetka’s Maple Hill and Elder beaches on the holiday or pay the $5 residency rate with proof of residency. Daniel I. Dorfman,, "How to celebrate the Fourth of July in Glencoe," 26 June 2018 But as the trustless, decentralized world of digital tokens expands—and Fortune 500 companies, banks, restaurant chains, and even countries (ahem, Venezuela) cautiously wade in—a credibility problem persists. Erin Griffith, WIRED, "The Dark Side of the Crypto Revolution," 17 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

That's a change from the 3DS, where users could use a fake token to get around a console-level network ban (at least until another ban came down, that is). Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Inside Nintendo’s “perfect” method for detecting online Switch piracy," 20 June 2018 Mousa Mostafa Mousa’s last-minute bid was widely considered a token gesture to avoid a one-man race seven years after the uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak’s three-decade rule., "Still Mr. 97 Percent, Egypt's El-Sisi Defeats Token Opponent," 2 Apr. 2018 The token—much like a subway token—allows the buyer to get access to a service even if, as is the case with many ICOs, that service hasn’t been built yet. Jeff John Roberts, Fortune, "SEC Chair Blasts Lawyers Over 'Disturbing' ICOs," 23 Jan. 2018 But such deals would be the type of token understandings that make Putin look conciliatory without committing to much. Anna Arutunyan, Time, "No Matter What Happens in Helsinki, Putin Has Already Won," 10 July 2018 Cooler heads could have prevailed in 1839, although by the same token, hotter heads could have prevailed at any time since 1802. Ian Morris, New York Times, "The Opium War and the Humiliation of China," 2 July 2018 Venezuela’s plan for its own cryptocurrency include paying public workers in the digital token and using tax incentives to encourage its use, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg News. Patricia Laya,, "Venezuela Plans Discounts, Tax Deals to Bolster Cryptocurrency," 16 Jan. 2018 As if things couldn't get any worse — this is family game blasphemy! — the thimble might not be the only token to go. Sarah Schreiber, Good Housekeeping, "Monopoly Just Got Rid of the Thimble and Now None of the Original Tokens Are Safe," 17 Feb. 2017 In January, the value of an XRP token briefly rose above $3, making a co-founder of the company, Chris Larsen, wealthier than Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg for a short time, and Ripple worth more than most banks in the world. New York Times, "Here’s Some Cryptocurrency. Now Please Use It.," 1 July 2018

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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Statistics for token

Last Updated

24 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for token

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

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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 \

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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Comments on token

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


by force of circumstances

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