vital signs

plural noun

: 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.
: 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

Note: 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

Note: 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 The new research updates a 2019 study also led by Ripple and his colleague Christopher Wolf that examined the planetary vital signs and warned of a climate emergency. Margaret Osborne, Smithsonian Magazine, 31 Oct. 2023 The boundaries include variables, such as biodiversity and nutrient flow, that are not included in the new analysis, as well as some of the vital signs, such as deforestation and ocean acidification. Meghan Bartels, Scientific American, 24 Oct. 2023 The person delivering your baby will bring all the medical equipment necessary for monitoring you and the fetus's vital signs: a fetal Doppler used to listen to the heartbeat, stethoscope, and blood pressure cuff. Amanda Krupa, Parents, 6 Oct. 2023 Police officers are also supposed to follow certain procedures after carotid holds, including to check vital signs, which both officers failed to do, the prosecutor alleged. Andi Babineau, CNN, 20 Sep. 2023 Oxygen levels, heartbeats, and temperatures formed the trio of vital signs under scrutiny, a choice propelled by the ubiquity of wearable tech like smartwatches. IEEE Spectrum, 14 Sep. 2023 When the team removed the tourniquet, Drew Kennison’s vital signs plummeted. Tom Hallman, oregonlive, 2 Sep. 2023 In addition to finding no vital signs, the attending physician found abrasions on Nicholas’ scalp, nose and mouth, what appeared to be pus in his eyes, blood in his ears, bruises on the neck and chest, stool in his diaper, a deformity of his right arm and crusty material under some of his nails. Warren Kulo |, al, 31 Aug. 2023 One way to study this question is to put people in heat chambers—special rooms where temperature, humidity, and light can be manipulated—while monitoring their vital signs. Dhruv Khullar, The New Yorker, 25 Aug. 2023 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

1801, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of vital signs was in 1801

Dictionary Entries Near vital signs

Cite this Entry

“Vital signs.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition

vital signs

: the pulse rate, body temperature, number of breaths taken per minute, and often blood pressure of a person

Medical Definition

vital signs

noun plural
: signs of life
specifically : the pulse rate, respiratory rate, body temperature, and often blood pressure of a person
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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