- anything that serves to indicate, warn, direct, command, or the like, as a light, a gesture, an act, etc.: a traffic signal; a signal to leave.
- anything agreed upon or understood as the occasion for concerted action.
- an act, event, or the like that causes or incites some action: The unjust execution was the signal for revolt.
- a token; indication.
- Electronics. an electrical quantity or effect, as current, voltage, or electromagnetic waves, that can be varied in such a way as to convey information.
- Cards. a play that reveals to one's partner a wish that he or she continue or discontinue the suit led.
- serving as a signal; used in signaling: a signal flag.
- unusual; notable; outstanding: a signal exploit.
- to make a signal to.
- to communicate or make known by a signal.
- to make communication by a signal or signals.
Origin of signal
SynonymsSee more synonyms for signal on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for signal
The band turned back around, raising a lively tune to signal life would go on.Funeral Protest Is Too Much for NYPD Union Boss
January 5, 2015
Not even Radio Bemba (Cuban slang for the rumor mill) had picked up the signal.The Life and Hard Times Of The Family A Cuban Defector Left Behind
December 19, 2014
So while the poor sound quality was aggravating, it was also a signal of some weird legitimacy.Digging the Gold in Dylan’s ‘Basement’
November 5, 2014
And more importantly, an Orman victory could signal a broader assault against the duopoly that controls congress.Independent Greg Orman Stands Up Against GOP Attacks
November 4, 2014
You are sending a signal that says any Western response to his actions will be inconsequential.Is the U.S. Enabling Putin's Invasion?
August 29, 2014
As she spoke, Geta lifted the curtain, and Philothea instantly obeyed the signal.
Each instinctively touched the other's arm, as a signal for silence.
For months I had received daily and hourly the most signal benefits from his hands.
The appearance of Mr. Gladstone was the signal for great applause.The Grand Old Man
Richard B. Cook
Cissy sent her a look, a signal, and rose; she stood by the doorway.Life and Death of Harriett Frean
- any sign, gesture, token, etc, that serves to communicate information
- anything that acts as an incitement to actionthe rise in prices was a signal for rebellion
- a variable parameter, such as a current or electromagnetic wave, by which information is conveyed through an electronic circuit, communications system, etc
- the information so conveyed
- (as modifier)signal strength; a signal generator
- distinguished or conspicuous
- used to give or act as a signal
- to communicate (a message, etc) to (a person)
Word Origin and History for signal
late 14c., "visible sign, indication," from Old French signal, seignal "seal, imprint, sign, mark," from Medieval Latin signale "a signal," from Late Latin signalis (adj.) "used as a signal, pertaining to a sign," from Latin signum "signal, sign" (see sign (n.)). Restricted sense "agreed-upon sign (to commence or desist, etc.) is from 1590s. Meaning "modulation of an electric current" is from 1855.
"remarkable, striking, notable" ("serving as a sign"), 1640s, from French signalé, past participle of signaler "to distinguish, signal" (see signal (n.)).
1805, "to make signals to," from signal (n.). Related: Signaled; signaling. Earlier verb was signalize (1650s).
- A fluctuating quantity or impulse whose variations represent information. The amplitude or frequency of voltage, current, electric field strength, light, and sound can be varied as signals representing information.