View synonyms for sign


[ sahyn ]


  1. a token or indication; a piece of evidence:

    The smoke curling from the chimney was a sign that someone was in the cabin.

    Synonyms: signal, suggestion, hint, trace

  2. any object, action, event, pattern, etc., that is taken as conveying a meaning:

    I took her silence and fidgeting as a sign of disagreement.

    Rising sales of disaster survival kits are a sign of the times.

  3. a conventional or arbitrary mark, figure, or symbol used as an abbreviation for the word or words it represents.
  4. a motion or gesture used to express or convey an idea, command, decision, etc.:

    Her nod was a sign that it was time to leave.

    Synonyms: signal

  5. a notice, bearing a name, direction, warning, or advertisement, that is displayed or posted for public view:

    a traffic sign;

    a store sign.

  6. a trace; vestige:

    There wasn't a sign of them.

  7. an arbitrary or conventional symbol used in musical notation to indicate tonality, tempo, etc.
  8. Medicine/Medical. the objective indications of a disease.
  9. any meaningful gestural unit belonging to a sign language.
  10. an omen; portent:

    The general unrest was a sign of the approaching revolution.

    Synonyms: augury, hint, indication

  11. Usually signs. traces, such as footprints or scat, of a wild animal.
  12. Mathematics.
    1. a plus sign or minus sign used as a symbol for indicating addition or subtraction.
    2. a plus sign or minus sign used as a symbol for indicating the positive or negative value of a quantity, as an integer.
    3. a symbol, as  or !, used to indicate a radical or factorial operation.

verb (used with object)

  1. to affix a signature to:

    to sign a letter.

  2. to write as a signature:

    to sign one's name.

  3. to engage by written agreement:

    to sign a new player.

  4. to mark with a sign, especially the sign of the cross.
  5. to communicate by means of a sign; signal:

    He signed his wish to leave.

  6. to convey (a message) in a sign language.
  7. Obsolete. to direct or appoint by a sign.

verb (used without object)

  1. to write one's signature, as a token of agreement, obligation, receipt, etc.:

    to sign for a package.

  2. to make a sign or signal:

    He signed to her to go away.

  3. to employ a sign language for communication.
  4. to obligate oneself by signature:

    He signed with another team for the next season.

verb phrase

  1. to enlist, as in an organization or group; to register or subscribe:

    to sign up for the navy;

    to sign up for class.

  2. to assign or dispose of by affixing one's signature to a document:

    She signed over her fortune to the church.

  3. to record or authorize one's arrival (or departure) by signing a register. Also sign out.
    1. to employ; hire.
    2. to bind oneself to work, as by signing a contract:

      He signed on as a pitcher with a major-league team.

    3. to start radio or television broadcasting, especially at the beginning of the day.
    4. Computers. log 1( def 18a ).
    1. to withdraw, as from some responsibility or connection.
    2. to cease radio or television broadcasting, especially at the end of the day.
    3. Informal. to become silent:

      He had exhausted conversation topics and signed off.

    4. to indicate one's approval explicitly if not formally:

      The president is expected to sign off on the new agreement.


/ saɪn /


  1. something that indicates or acts as a token of a fact, condition, etc, that is not immediately or outwardly observable
  2. an action or gesture intended to convey information, a command, etc
    1. a board, placard, etc, displayed in public and inscribed with words or designs intended to inform, warn, etc
    2. ( as modifier )

      a sign painter

  3. an arbitrary or conventional mark or device that stands for a word, phrase, etc
  4. maths logic
    1. any symbol indicating an operation

      a plus sign

      an implication sign

    2. the positivity or negativity of a number, quantity, or expression

      subtraction from zero changes the sign of an expression

  5. an indication or vestige

    the house showed no signs of being occupied

  6. a portentous or significant event
  7. an indication, such as a scent or spoor, of the presence of an animal
  8. med any objective evidence of the presence of a disease or disorder Compare symptom
  9. astrology Compare sign of the zodiac


  1. to write (one's name) as a signature to (a document, etc) in attestation, confirmation, ratification, etc
  2. introften foll byto to make a sign; signal
  3. to engage or be engaged by written agreement, as a player for a team, etc
  4. tr to outline in gestures a sign over, esp the sign of the cross
  5. tr to indicate by or as if by a sign; betoken
  6. intr to use sign language


/ sīn /

  1. A body manifestation, usually detected on physical examination or through laboratory tests or xrays, that indicates the presence of abnormality or disease.
  2. Compare symptom
  3. See symbol
  4. See Table at symbol

Discover More

Derived Forms

  • ˈsignable, adjective

Discover More

Other Words From

  • sign·less adjective
  • sign·like adjective
  • post·sign verb (used with object)
  • un·signed adjective

Discover More

Word History and Origins

Origin of sign1

First recorded in 1175–1225; Middle English noun signe, sign, from Old French and Latin signum “mark, sign, ensign, signal, image”; verb ultimately from the noun

Discover More

Word History and Origins

Origin of sign1

C13: from Old French signe, from Latin signum a sign

Discover More

Idioms and Phrases

  • high sign
  • show signs of

Discover More

Synonym Study

Sign, omen, portent name that which gives evidence of a future event. Sign is a general word for whatever gives evidence of an event—past, present, or future: Dark clouds are a sign of rain or snow. An omen is an augury or warning of things to come; it is used only of the future, in general, as good or bad: birds of evil omen. Portent, limited, like omen, to prophecy of the future, may be used of a specific event, usually a misfortune: portents of war.

Discover More

Example Sentences

It’s the most precaution Valderruten has taken before a first date, and it’s a sign of how much the singles scene has changed in the past year.

The fact that I was even thinking that was a sign of how you start doubting your whole reality.

The stormy pattern shows no signs of stopping, with four more chances for wintry precipitation over the next week.

Senior aides to the impeachment managers’ team claim they are seeing signs that some Republicans may be wavering and might be convinced to vote for a conviction.

In a true sign that the Politico of 2021 is not the Politico of, say, 2008, the Playbook crew didn’t publish the story 30 seconds after asking for comment.

They are always suspended over a precipice, dangling by a slender thread that shows every sign of snapping.

It was hard not to take it as a sign, a personal comment on my own Jewish dating failings.

If he did, it could be a sign that our politicians are ready to resume genuine policy-making across party lines.

President Harry Truman kept a sign on his desk that read: “The Buck Stops Here.”

Even then, most of us doubted he would show up and actually sign the papers allowing him to enter the 1992 New Hampshire primary.

Its continued presence in pulmonary tuberculosis is, however, a grave prognostic sign, even when the physical signs are slight.

Idly his pen traced upon the paper in front of him a large X, the sign of the unknown quantity.

Here they are seldom abundant, but their constant presence is the most reliable urinary sign of the disease.

Waxy casts are found in most advanced cases of nephritis, where they are an unfavorable sign.

Scouts reported that Porter still occupied his camp, and showed no sign of moving.


Related Words

Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.