To signify means to "mean." When Paul Revere looked for the lanterns in the church tower, he knew that one would signify that the British were coming by land and two would indicate that they were coming by sea.

When objects are endowed with symbolic meaning, they are said to signify things. A dove signifies peace, a six-pointed star signifies Judaism, a frog signifies fertility, a trident signifies the Hindu Shiva or the Greek Poseidon.

Definitions of signify
  1. verb
    denote or connote
    synonyms: intend, mean, stand for
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    denote, refer
    have as a meaning
    convolute, pervert, sophisticate, twist, twist around
    practice sophistry; change the meaning of or be vague about in order to mislead or deceive
    euphemise, euphemize
    refer to something with a euphemism
    come back, hark back, recall, return
    go back to something earlier
    identify, name
    give the name or identifying characteristics of; refer to by name or some other identifying characteristic property
    refer (a word or name) to a person or thing
    speak disparagingly of; e.g., make a racial slur
    express, state
    indicate through a symbol, formula, etc.
  2. verb
    make known with a word or signal
    “He signified his wish to pay the bill for our meal”
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    type of:
    to state or express briefly
  3. verb
    convey or express a meaning
    “What does his strange behavior signify?”
    intend, mean, stand for
    denote or connote
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    type of:
    intend, mean
    mean or intend to express or convey
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