[ 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.

Nearby words

  1. significative,
  2. significs,
  3. signified,
  4. signifier,
  5. signifié,
  6. signifying,
  7. signing,
  8. signior,
  9. signiory,
  10. signor

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