Other forms: signs; signed; signing

A sign is a clue something happened, or a display that communicates a message, like a stop sign that tells you stop. To sign also means to write your signature.

The word sign has many senses, but in a general, it usually has something to say. It may be a symptom that tells about a problem, or it may just be a symbol, like the plus and minus signs in math. Sign language uses hand signals to represent words and letters. And if thunder rumbles whenever you open that book, you may take it as a sign not to read it.

Definitions of sign
  1. noun
    a perceptible indication of something not immediately apparent (as a visible clue that something has happened)
    “he showed signs of strain”
    “they welcomed the signs of spring”
    synonyms: mark
    see moresee less
    something serving as a sign of something else
    type of:
    clew, clue, cue
    evidence that helps to solve a problem
  2. noun
    a character indicating a relation between quantities
    “don't forget the minus sign
    see moresee less
    show 4 types...
    hide 4 types...
    equal sign
    a sign indicating that the quantities on either side are equal
    plus sign
    a sign indicating the operation of addition
    minus sign
    a sign indicating the operation of subtraction
    radical sign
    a sign indicating the extraction of a root
    type of:
    mathematical notation
    a notation used by mathematicians
  3. noun
    (medicine) any objective evidence of the presence of a disorder or disease
    see moresee less
    show 5 types...
    hide 5 types...
    vital sign
    sign of life; usually an indicator of a person's general physical condition
    blood heat, body temperature
    temperature of the body; normally 98.6 F or 37 C in humans; usually measured to obtain a quick evaluation of a person's health
    blood pressure
    the pressure of the circulating blood against the walls of the blood vessels; results from the systole of the left ventricle of the heart; sometimes measured for a quick evaluation of a person's health
    heart rate, pulse, pulse rate
    the rate at which the heart beats; usually measured to obtain a quick evaluation of a person's health
    rate of respiration, respiratory rate
    the rate at which a person inhales and exhales; usually measured to obtain a quick evaluation of a person's health
    type of:
    evidence, grounds
    your basis for belief or disbelief; knowledge on which to base belief
  4. noun
    an event that is experienced as indicating important things to come
    “it was a sign from God”
    synonyms: augury, foretoken, preindication
    see moresee less
    show 5 types...
    hide 5 types...
    war cloud
    an ominous sign that war threatens
    omen, portent, presage, prodigy, prognostic, prognostication
    a sign of something about to happen
    a favorable omen
    an unfavorable omen
    death knell
    an omen of death or destruction
    type of:
    an event as apprehended
  5. noun
    a fundamental linguistic unit linking a signifier to that which is signified
    see moresee less
    type of:
    language unit, linguistic unit
    one of the natural units into which linguistic messages can be analyzed
  6. noun
    a gesture that is part of a sign language
    see moresee less
    type of:
    gesture, motion
    the use of movements (especially of the hands) to communicate familiar or prearranged signals
  7. noun
    any nonverbal action or gesture that encodes a message
    synonyms: signal, signaling
    see moresee less
    show 90 types...
    hide 90 types...
    a signal that encodes something (e.g., picture or sound) that has been recorded
    number, phone number, telephone number
    the number is used in calling a particular telephone
    start, starting signal
    a signal to begin (as in a race)
    storm signal
    a signal announcing the approach of a storm (particularly a storm of marked violence)
    beam, radio beam
    a signal transmitted along a narrow path; guides airplane pilots in darkness or bad weather
    system of signalling by hand signs used by bookmakers at racetracks
    time signal
    a signal (especially electronic or by radio) indicating the precisely correct time
    a corner of a page turned down to mark your place
    animal communication
    communication between animals (of the same species)
    alarm, alarum, alert, warning signal
    an automatic signal (usually a sound) warning of danger
    distress call, distress signal
    an internationally recognized signal sent out by a ship or plane indicating that help is needed
    all clear
    a signal (usually a siren) that danger is over
    bugle call
    a signal broadcast by the sound of a bugle
    a signal (usually a bell) announcing the start of curfew restrictions
    (military) a signal to begin a withdrawal from a dangerous position
    (military) the beating of a drum as a signal for lowering the flag at sundown
    radiotelegraphic signal, telegraphic signal
    a signal transmitted by telegraphy
    whistle, whistling
    the act of signalling (e.g., summoning) by whistling or blowing a whistle
    high sign
    a silent signal of warning or recognition
    an arbitrary sign (written or printed) that has acquired a conventional significance
    visual signal
    a signal that involves visual communication
    a signal for attracting attention
    electronic signal
    a signal generated by electronic means
    radio beacon
    a characteristic signal emitted by a transmitter used for navigation
    input, input signal
    signal going into an electronic system
    output, output signal
    signal that comes out of an electronic system
    bologram, bolograph
    record or recording made by a bolometer
    the recording (column or paper strip) on which the constituents of a mixture are adsorbed in chromatography
    the recording produced by an oscillograph
    a recording of breathing made with a spirograph
    a small explosive device that is placed on a railroad track and fires when a train runs over it; the sound of the explosion warns the engineer of danger ahead
    stock symbol
    the letters used to identify listed companies on the securities exchanges where they are traded
    accolade, award, honor, honour, laurels
    a tangible symbol signifying approval or distinction
    storm cone
    a canvas cone hoisted to warn of high winds
    brand, mark, stain, stigma
    a symbol of disgrace or infamy
    item, token
    an individual instance of a type of symbol
    all of the tokens of the same symbol
    birdcall, birdsong, call, song
    the characteristic sound produced by a bird
    air alert
    the warning signal that begins a period of preparation for an enemy air attack
    burglar alarm
    a loud warning signal produced by a burglar alarm
    an internationally recognized distress signal in radio code
    an internationally recognized distress signal via radiotelephone (from the French m'aider)
    a bugle call that signals troops to return
    lights-out, taps
    (military) signal to turn the lights out
    reveille, wake-up signal
    (military) signal to wake up
    (military) a bugle call signaling the lowering of the flag at sunset
    a drumbeat or bugle call that signals the military to return to their quarters
    dit, dot
    the shorter of the two telegraphic signals used in Morse code
    dah, dash
    the longer of the two telegraphic signals used in Morse code
    a symbol of inquisitiveness
    number, numeral
    a symbol used to represent a number
    a system of symbols and symbolic representations
    the Hindu phallic symbol of Siva
    pound, pound sign
    a symbol for a unit of currency (especially for the pound sterling in Great Britain)
    printed symbol, written symbol
    a written or printed symbol
    dollar, dollar mark, dollar sign
    a symbol of commercialism or greed
    a graphic symbol consisting of 2 or more letters combined (usually your initials); printed on stationery or embroidered on clothing
    impression, stamp
    a symbol that is the result of printing or engraving
    watch fire
    a fire lighted at night as a signal
    a visual warning signal
    red light, warning light
    a cautionary sign of danger
    flare, flash
    a burst of light used to communicate or illuminate
    flag, signal flag
    a rectangular piece of fabric used as a signalling device
    the cloak as a symbol of authority
    the Crown (or the reigning monarch) as the symbol of the power and authority of a monarchy
    air sock, air-sleeve, drogue, sock, wind cone, wind sleeve, wind sock, windsock
    a truncated cloth cone mounted on a mast; used (e.g., at airports) to show the direction of the wind
    post, stake
    a pole or stake set up to mark something (as the start or end of a race track)
    point of reference, reference, reference point
    an indicator that orients you generally
    blinker, trafficator, turn indicator, turn signal
    a blinking light on a motor vehicle that indicates the direction in which the vehicle is about to turn
    worn around arm as identification or to indicate mourning
    rocket, skyrocket
    propels bright light high in the sky, or used to propel a lifesaving line or harpoon
    radar echo
    an electronic signal that has been reflected back to the radar antenna; contains information about the location and distance of the reflecting object
    racon, radar beacon
    a device that, on receiving radar signals, transmits coded signals in response to help navigators determine their position
    beacon, beacon fire
    a fire (usually on a hill or tower) that can be seen from a distance
    the output of a computer in printed form
    read-out, readout
    the output of a computer in readable form
    fire alarm
    a shout or bell to warn that fire has broken out
    foghorn, fogsignal
    a loud low warning signal that can be heard by fogbound ships
    a noise made by the driver of an automobile to give warning;
    red flag
    a flag that serves as a warning signal
    a warning signal that is a loud wailing sound
    alarm bell, tocsin
    the sound of an alarm (usually a bell)
    brake light, stoplight
    a red light on the rear of a motor vehicle that signals when the brakes are applied to slow or stop
    barber's pole
    striped pole outside a barbershop
    a rod carried as a symbol
    (computer science) a graphic symbol (usually a simple picture) that denotes a program or a command or a data file or a concept in a graphical user interface
    insignia, mark, marker, marking
    a distinguishing symbol
    a symbol that establishes the identity of the one bearing it
    a symbol (like x or y) that is used in mathematical or logical expressions to represent a variable quantity
    a small, often stylized graphic symbol
    type of:
    something that is communicated by or to or between people or groups
  8. verb
    communicate silently and non-verbally by signals or signs
    “He signed his disapproval with a dismissive hand gesture”
    synonyms: signal, signalise, signalize
    see moresee less
    show 5 types...
    hide 5 types...
    signal by or as if by a flag or light waved according to a code
    send signals by or as if by semaphore
    signal by means of a mirror and the using the sun's rays
    communicate or signal with a flag
    give a signal by whistling
    type of:
    communicate, intercommunicate
    transmit thoughts or feelings
  9. verb
    communicate in sign language
    “I don't know how to sign, so I could not communicate with my deaf cousin”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    communicate, intercommunicate
    transmit thoughts or feelings
  10. adjective
    used of the language of the deaf
    synonyms: gestural, sign-language, signed
    communicative, communicatory
    able or tending to communicate
  11. noun
    a public display of a message
    “he posted signs in all the shop windows”
    see moresee less
    show 7 types...
    hide 7 types...
    bill, card, notice, placard, poster, posting
    a sign posted in a public place as an advertisement
    street sign
    a sign visible from the street
    guidepost, signpost
    a post bearing a sign that gives directions or shows the way
    show bill, show card, theatrical poster
    a poster advertising a show or play
    flash card, flashcard
    a card with words or numbers or pictures that is flashed to a class by the teacher
    a sign in front of a house or business carrying the conventional form by which its location is described
    fingerboard, fingerpost
    a guidepost resembling a hand with a pointing index finger
    type of:
    something that is communicated by or to or between people or groups
  12. noun
    structure displaying a board on which advertisements can be posted
    synonyms: signboard
    see moresee less
    show 4 types...
    hide 4 types...
    billboard, hoarding
    large outdoor signboard
    sandwich board
    signboard consisting of two hinged boards that hang front and back from the shoulders of a walker and are used to display advertisements
    a large board for displaying the score of a contest (and some other information)
    a small signboard outside the office of a lawyer or doctor, e.g.
    type of:
    construction, structure
    a thing constructed; a complex entity constructed of many parts
  13. verb
    place signs, as along a road
    sign an intersection”
    “This road has been signed
    see moresee less
    type of:
    lay, place, pose, position, put, set
    put into a certain place or abstract location
  14. verb
    mark with one's signature; write one's name (on)
    “She signed the letter and sent it off”
    “Please sign here”
    synonyms: subscribe
    see moresee less
    sign with a mark instead of a name
    type of:
    communicate or express by writing
  15. verb
    approve and express assent, responsibility, or obligation
    “Have you signed your contract yet?”
    synonyms: ratify
    see moresee less
    type of:
    formalise, formalize, validate
    declare or make legally valid
  16. verb
    engage by written agreement
    “They signed two new pitchers for the next season”
    synonyms: contract, sign on, sign up
    see moresee less
    contract out
    assign a job to someone outside one's own business
    type of:
    employ, engage, hire
    engage or hire for work
  17. verb
    be engaged by a written agreement
    “He signed to play the casino on Dec. 18”
    “The soprano signed to sing the new opera”
    see moresee less
    show 9 types...
    hide 9 types...
    sign at the bottom of (a document)
    append one's signature to
    autograph, inscribe
    mark with one's signature
    mark with one's initials
    add one's signature to after another's to attest authenticity
    sign in the presence of witnesses
    endorse, indorse
    sign as evidence of legal transfer
    co-sign, cosign
    sign and endorse (another person's signature), as for a loan
    provide (a passport) with a visa
    type of:
    contract, undertake
    enter into a contractual arrangement
  18. noun
    (astrology) one of 12 equal areas into which the zodiac is divided
    synonyms: house, mansion, planetary house, sign of the zodiac, star sign
    see moresee less
    show 12 examples...
    hide 12 examples...
    Aries the Ram
    the first sign of the zodiac which the sun enters at the vernal equinox; the sun is in this sign from about March 21 to April 19
    Taurus the Bull
    the second sign of the zodiac; the sun is in this sign from about April 20 to May 20
    Gemini the Twins
    the third sign of the zodiac; the sun is in this sign from about May 21 to June 20
    Cancer the Crab
    the fourth sign of the zodiac; the sun is in this sign from about June 21 to July 22
    Leo the Lion
    the fifth sign of the zodiac; the sun is in this sign from about July 23 to August 22
    Virgo the Virgin
    the sixth sign of the zodiac; the sun is in this sign from about August 23 to September 22
    Libra the Balance
    the seventh sign of the zodiac; the sun is in this sign from about September 23 to October 22
    Scorpio the Scorpion
    the eighth sign of the zodiac; the sun is in this sign from about October 23 to November 21
    Sagittarius the Archer
    the ninth sign of the zodiac; the sun is in this sign from about November 22 to December 21
    Capricorn the Goat
    the tenth sign of the zodiac; the sun is in this sign from about December 22 to January 19
    Aquarius the Water Bearer
    the eleventh sign of the zodiac; the sun is in this sign from about January 20 to February 18
    Pisces the Fishes
    the twelfth sign of the zodiac; the sun is in this sign from about February 19 to March 20
    type of:
    part, region
    the extended spatial location of something
  19. noun
    having an indicated pole (as the distinction between positive and negative electric charges)
    “charges of opposite sign
    synonyms: polarity
    see moresee less
    positiveness, positivity
    the character of the positive electric pole
    negativeness, negativity
    the character of the negative electric pole
    type of:
    oppositeness, opposition
    the relation between opposed entities
  20. verb
    make the sign of the cross over someone in order to call on God for protection; consecrate
    synonyms: bless
    see moresee less
    type of:
    gesticulate, gesture, motion
    show, express, or direct through movement




DISCLAIMER: These example sentences appear in various news sources and books to reflect the usage of the word ‘sign'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of or its editors. Send us feedback
Word Family

Look up sign for the last time

Close your vocabulary gaps with personalized learning that focuses on teaching the words you need to know.

VocabTrainer -'s Vocabulary Trainer