n) KEY NOUN:
- Something that suggests the presence or existence of a fact, condition, or quality.
- An act or gesture used to convey an idea, a desire, information, or a command: gave the go-ahead sign.
- Sign language.
- A displayed structure bearing lettering or symbols, used to identify or advertise a place of business: a motel with a flashing neon sign outside.
- A posted notice bearing a designation, direction, or command: an EXIT sign above a door; a traffic sign.
- A conventional figure or device that stands for a word, phrase, or operation; a symbol, as in mathematics or in musical notation.
pl. sign An indicator, such as a dropping or footprint, of the trail of an animal: looking for deer sign.
- A trace or vestige: no sign of life.
- A portentous incident or event; a presage: took the eclipse as a sign from God.
- A body manifestation that serves to indicate the presence of malfunction or disease.
- One of the 12 divisions of the zodiac, each named for a constellation and represented by a symbol.
, signs VERB: tr.
- To affix one's signature to.
- To write (one's signature).
- To approve or ratify (a document) by affixing a signature, seal, or other mark: sign a bill into law.
- To hire or engage by obtaining a signature on a contract: signed a rookie pitcher for next season; sign up actors for a tour.
- To relinquish or transfer title to by signature: signed away all her claims to the estate.
- To provide with a sign or signs: sign a new highway.
- To communicate with a sign or signs: signed his approval with a nod.
- To express (a word or thought, for example) by sign language: signed her reply to the question.
- To consecrate with the sign of the cross.
PHRASAL VERBS: sign in
- To make a sign or signs; signal.
- To use sign language.
- To write one's signature.
- To record the arrival of another or oneself by signing a register.
- To announce the end of a communication; conclude.
- To stop transmission after identifying the broadcasting station.
- Informal To express approval formally or conclusively: got the Congress to sign off on the tax proposal.
- Informal To enlist oneself, especially as an employee: "Retired politicians often sign on with top-dollar law firms" (New York Times).
- To start transmission with an identification of the broadcasting station.
- To record the departure of another or oneself by signing a register.
- To agree to be a participant or recipient by signing one's name; enlist: signed up for military service; signing up for a pottery course.
Middle English signe
, from Old French, from Latin signum
; see sekw-1
in Indo-European rootsOTHER FORMS:signer(Noun)SYNONYMS: sign, symbol, emblem, badge, mark1, token, symptom, note
These nouns denote an outward indication of the existence or presence of something not immediately evident. Sign
is the most general: "The exile of Gaveston was the sign of the barons' triumph" (John R. Green). Symbol
often refer to something associated with and standing for, representing, or identifying something else: "There was One whose suffering changed an instrument of torture, degradation and shame, into a symbol of glory, honor, and immortal life" (Harriet Beecher Stowe). "a bed of sweet-scented lillies, the emblem of France" (Amy Steedman). Badge
usually refers to something that is worn as an insignia of membership, is an emblem of achievement, or is a characteristic sign: a sheriff's badge. "Sweet mercy is nobility's true badge" (Shakespeare). Mark
can refer to a visible trace or impression (a laundry mark
) or to an indication of a distinctive trait or characteristic: Intolerance is the mark of a bigot. Token
usually refers to evidence or proof of something intangible: sent flowers as a token of her affection. Symptom
suggests outward evidence of a process or condition, especially an adverse condition: bad weather that showed no symptoms of improving anytime soon. Note
applies to the sign of a particular quality or feature: "the eternal note of sadness" (Matthew Arnold).
See also Synonyms at gesture