sig·​ni·​fy | \ ˈsig-nə-ˌfī How to pronounce signify (audio) \
signified; signifying

Definition of signify

transitive verb

1a : to be a sign of : mean
b : imply
2 : to show especially by a conventional token (such as word, signal, or gesture)

intransitive verb

1 : to have significance : matter it will not much signify what one wears— Jane Austen
2 : to engage in signifying

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Synonyms for signify


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Signify basically means "to make a sign or signal". One of its synonyms is indicate; the index finger is the finger you point with, so to indicate is essentially to point to something. Significant means "important" and significance means "importance;" similarly, insignificant means "unimportant" and insignificance means "lack of importance".

Examples of signify in a Sentence

A check mark next to your name signifies that you have met all the requirements. The recent decline of the stock market does not necessarily signify the start of a recession. He gave her a diamond ring to signify his love. Whether he agrees or not does not signify.
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Recent Examples on the Web Teal pumpkins signify a food-allergy awareness program known as the Teal Pumpkin Project. Zee Krstic, Good Housekeeping, 10 Sep. 2021 Yellow roses signify friendship, and white roses indicate innocence. Washington Post, 9 Sep. 2021 Last year the Libra Association rebranded itself Diem, using the Latin for day to signify a new day. Washington Post, 10 Sep. 2021 The brand-new event in the Paralympic program is a 4x100-meter relay race featuring athletes from different sports classifications, which are used in the Paralympics to signify levels and types of impairment. Johanna Gretsche, SELF, 4 Sep. 2021 About four dozen Aurora police officers and firefighters walked across the bridge when the second bell tolled at 8:03 a.m. to signify when Flight 175 crashed into the World Trade Center’s South Tower. Linda Girardi,, 11 Sep. 2021 When Villanova beat North Carolina with a three-pointer at the buzzer to win the NCAA title in 2016, that was Stephens with his arms raised to signify that the basket was good., 9 Sep. 2021 Danger is for products that are the most hazardous while warning or caution signify those that are less hazardous. Sarah Bowman, The Indianapolis Star, 3 Sep. 2021 Another wore a large yellow star, to signify her view that a vaccine requirement is equivalent to the persecution of Jews during the Holocaust. Peter Slevin, The New Yorker, 16 Aug. 2021

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

13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for signify

Middle English signifien, from Anglo-French signifier, from Latin significare to indicate, signify, from signum sign

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Time Traveler for signify

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The first known use of signify was in the 13th century

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Last Updated

10 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Signify.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for signify



English Language Learners Definition of signify

: to be a sign of (something) : to mean (something)
: to show (your feelings, intentions, opinions, etc.) by doing something
: to have importance : matter


sig·​ni·​fy | \ ˈsig-nə-ˌfī How to pronounce signify (audio) \
signified; signifying

Kids Definition of signify

1 : mean entry 1 sense 1, denote A check mark signifies a correct answer.
2 : to show especially by a sign : make known She nodded to signify agreement.
3 : to have importance : matter "It doesn't signify what you THINK … Facts is facts."— Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

More from Merriam-Webster on signify

Nglish: Translation of signify for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of signify for Arabic Speakers


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