[ sig-nuh-fahy ]
/ ˈsɪg nəˌfaɪ /

verb (used with object), sig·ni·fied, sig·ni·fy·ing.

to make known by signs, speech, or action.
to be a sign of; mean; portend.

verb (used without object), sig·ni·fied, sig·ni·fy·ing.

to be of importance or consequence.

Origin of signify

1200–50; Middle English signifien < Old French signifier < Latin significāre to make a sign, indicate, mention, denote. See sign, -ify
Related formssig·ni·fi·a·ble, adjectiveun·sig·ni·fi·a·ble, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for signify

British Dictionary definitions for signify


/ (ˈsɪɡnɪˌfaɪ) /

verb -fies, -fying or -fied (when tr, may take a clause as object)

(tr) to indicate, show, or suggest
(tr) to imply or portendthe clouds signified the coming storm
(tr) to stand as a symbol, sign, etc (for)
(intr) informal to be significant or important
Derived Formssignifiable, adjectivesignifier, noun

Word Origin for signify

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

Word Origin and History for signify



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