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[toh-kuh n] /ˈtoʊ kən/
something serving to represent or indicate some fact, event, feeling, etc.; sign:
Black is a token of mourning.
a characteristic indication or mark of something; evidence or proof:
Malnutrition is a token of poverty.
a memento; souvenir; keepsake:
The seashell was a token of their trip.
something used to indicate authenticity, authority, etc.; emblem; badge:
Judicial robes are a token of office.
Also called token coin. a stamped piece of metal, issued as a limited medium of exchange, as for bus fares, at a nominal value much greater than its commodity value.
anything of only nominal value similarly used, as paper currency.
an item, idea, person, etc., representing a group; a part as representing the whole; sample; indication.
Logic, Linguistics. a particular instance of a word, symbol, expression, sentence, or the like: A printed page might have twenty tokens of the single type-word “and.”.
Compare type (def 8).
verb (used with object)
to be a token of; signify; symbolize.
serving as a token:
a token gift; a token male on an all-female staff.
slight; perfunctory; minimal:
token resistance.
by the same token,
  1. in proof of which.
  2. moreover; furthermore:
    She has a talent as a painter, and by the same token has a sharp eye for detail.
in token of, as a sign of; in evidence of:
a ring in token of his love.
Origin of token
before 900; Middle English; Old English tāc(e)n; cognate with German Zeichen, Old Norse teikn sign, mark. See teach
Related forms
pretoken, noun, verb (used with object)
10. symbolic. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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British Dictionary definitions for token


an indication, warning, or sign of something
a symbol or visible representation of something
something that indicates authority, proof, or authenticity
a metal or plastic disc, such as a substitute for currency for use in slot machines
a memento
a gift voucher that can be used as payment for goods of a specified value
(modifier) as a matter of form only; nominal: a token increase in salary
(linguistics) a symbol regarded as an individual concrete mark, not as a class of identical symbols Compare type (sense 11)
(philosophy) an individual instance: if the same sentence has different truth-values on different occasions of utterance the truth-value may be said to attach to the sentence-token Compare type (sense 13)
by the same token, moreover and for the same or a similar reason
(transitive) to act or serve as a warning or symbol of; betoken
Word Origin
Old English tācen; related to Old Frisian tēken, Old Saxon tēkan, Old High German zeihhan, Old Norse teikn; see teach
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 token

Old English tacen "sign, symbol, evidence" (related to tæcan "show, explain, teach"), from Proto-Germanic *taiknan (cf. Old Saxon tekan, Old Norse teikn "zodiac sign, omen, token," Old Frisian, Middle Dutch teken, Dutch teken, Old High German zeihhan, German zeichen, Gothic taikn "sign, token"), from PIE root *deik- "to show" (see teach).

Meaning "coin-like piece of stamped metal" is first recorded 1590s. Original sense of "evidence" is retained in by the same token (mid-15c.), originally "introducing a corroborating evidence."


"nominal," 1915, from token (n.). In integration sense, first recorded 1960.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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token in Technology

1. A basic, grammatically indivisible unit of a language such as a keyword, operator or identifier. Compare: lexeme.
2. (Or "pumpkin") An abstact concept passed between cooperating agents to ensure synchronised access to a shared resource. Such a token is never duplicated or destroyed (unless the resource is) and whoever has the token has exclusive access to the resource it controls. See for example token ring.
If several programmers are working on a program, one programmer will "have the token" at any time, meaning that only he can change the program whereas others can only read it. If someone else wants to modify it he must first obtain the token.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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Idioms and Phrases with token
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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