vital signs

plural noun

Definition of vital signs

1 : signs of life … frightened even more by the fact that a few months ago you were clinically dead—that's right, dead—all vital signs gone.— Asa Baber specifically : the pulse rate, respiratory rate, body temperature, and blood pressure of a person Her vital signs and findings from physical examination were normal, and she was not hospitalized. — John P. Hanrahan et al.
2 : measurable variables considered to indicate the general state or condition of something The economy's vital signs are stronger than they have been in years. Companies are posting jobs faster than they can find workers to fill them.— Ben Casselman He proposes that living things act as a single, coordinated entity that maintains the earth's temperature and other vital signs within very narrow limits that are to the entity's own benefit.— Michael Oppenheimer The singular vital sign is sometimes used for a single sign or measurement. The box … houses nine removable electronic modules, each of which monitors a specific vital sign, such as temperature, oil pressure, and the rpm of the power turbine and gas producer.— Jay Coyle The singular form is also often used before another noun. vital sign monitors vital sign data

Examples of vital signs in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Many patients who had beds were lined up in hallways because there weren't enough monitors to track their vital signs. Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press, "Sinai-Grace nurses file lawsuit, allege patients died because hospital was short-staffed," 11 June 2020 Researchers usually monitor their blood, urine, and vital signs, and some studies require invasive procedures such as lumbar punctures, biopsies, or endoscopies. Carl Elliott, The New York Review of Books, "An Ethical Path to a Covid Vaccine," 3 June 2020 The patient who died from septic shock because no one monitored his vital signs. Natalie Kitroeff, New York Times, "‘It’s Not The Virus’: Mexico’s Broken Hospitals Become Killers, Too," 28 May 2020 Employees are taking residents’ vital signs, including temperatures, twice a day. Jennifer Smith Richards, ProPublica, "More Than 1 in 5 Illinoisans Living in State Homes for Adults With Disabilities Have Tested Positive for the Coronavirus," 22 May 2020 In the room, Jordt said nursing work could include checking vital signs and blood sugar, giving medication, assisting with hygiene and bringing in food trays. Marc Lester, Anchorage Daily News, "What has it been like to care for COVID-19-sickened patients in Anchorage? Two nurses share their experiences.," 9 May 2020 Many of my patients have abnormal hunger vital signs — evidence of crises before they are officially declared. Paula Magee, STAT, "Child abuse is one of many unseen harms from shutting down America’s schools," 7 May 2020 The collapse of the country’s health care system has been most extreme in its maternity wards, where vital sign monitors, ventilators, and sanitation systems have broken down. Emma Hinchliffe, Fortune, "3 takeaways on coronavirus from a vaccine expert," 13 Apr. 2020 The patient had mostly normal vital signs and was unlikely to be admitted at a hospital, the medics said. Ali Watkins, New York Times, "‘Possible Covid’: Why the Lulls Never Last for Weary E.M.S. Crews," 27 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'vital signs.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of vital signs

1801, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about vital signs

Time Traveler for vital signs

Time Traveler

The first known use of vital signs was in 1801

See more words from the same year

Statistics for vital signs

Last Updated

27 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Vital signs.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jul. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for vital signs

vital signs


English Language Learners Definition of vital signs

: important body functions (such as breathing and heartbeat) that are measured to see if someone is alive or healthy

vital signs

noun plural

Medical Definition of vital signs

: signs of life specifically : the pulse rate, respiratory rate, body temperature, and often blood pressure of a person

Comments on vital signs

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A More Exception(al) Quiz

  • hot dog  hot dog  hot dog  hot dog cat
  • Which of the following words is not a synonym for ‘a young person’?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!