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90s Slang You Should Know


[sig-nuh-fahy-ing] /ˈsɪg nəˌfaɪ ɪŋ/
sounding1 (def 4)
Origin of signifying
First recorded in 1955-60; signify + -ing1
Related forms
unsignifying, adjective


[sig-nuh-fahy] /ˈsɪg nəˌfaɪ/
verb (used with object), signified, signifying.
to make known by signs, speech, or action.
to be a sign of; mean; portend.
verb (used without object), signified, signifying.
to be of importance or consequence.
1200-50; Middle English signifien < Old French signifier < Latin significāre to make a sign, indicate, mention, denote. See sign, -ify
Related forms
signifiable, adjective
unsignifiable, adjective
1. signal, express, indicate. 2. represent, indicate, denote, betoken, imply. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for signifying
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The English term "munching," signifying chewing or masticating, is an excellent amendment, which is gladly adopted.

    The New Glutton or Epicure Horace Fletcher
  • Imperious was a more ancient term, signifying the same as imperial.

    Hamlet William Shakespeare
  • The Boy had written, signifying his acceptance and approval of the arrangements as made.

    One Day Anonymous
  • The German closed his eyes, signifying that he did not understand.

    War and Peace Leo Tolstoy
  • I explained that it was a common enough Portuguese word, signifying "talk," which Enoch in his wanderings had picked up.

    In the Valley Harold Frederic
British Dictionary definitions for signifying


verb (when transitive, may take a clause as object) -fies, -fying, -fied
(transitive) to indicate, show, or suggest
(transitive) to imply or portend: the clouds signified the coming storm
(transitive) to stand as a symbol, sign, etc (for)
(intransitive) (informal) to be significant or important
Derived Forms
signifiable, adjective
signifier, noun
Word Origin
C13: from Old French signifier, from Latin significāre, from signum a sign, mark + facere to make
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for signifying



late 13c., "be a sign of, indicate, mean," from Old French signifier (12c.), from Latin significare "to make signs, show by signs, point out, express; mean, signify; foreshadow, portend," from significus (adj.), from signum "sign" (see sign (n.)) + root of facere "to make" (see factitious). Intransitive sense of "to be of importance" is attested from 1660s. Meaning "engage in mock-hostile banter" is American English black slang first recorded 1932.

...'signifying,' which in Harlemese means making a series of oblique remarks apparently addressed to no one in particular, but unmistakable in intention in such a close-knit circle. ["Down Beat," March 7, 1968]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for signifying



To make provocative comments in a gamelike manner; snap, sound: any black kid who has stood in a school yard or on a street corner engaging in the mock-hostile banter that blacks call ''signifying''/ In Chicago you still get people doing the old-style rhyming; that's called signifying (1932+ Black)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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