Definition of sign noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//saɪn//
    ; NAmE NAmE//saɪn//
    Mathematical terminology
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    showing something
  1. 1  [countable, uncountable] an event, an action, a fact, etc. that shows that something exists, is happening or may happen in the future synonym indication sign (of something/somebody) Headaches may be a sign of stress. There is no sign of John anywhere. Call the police at the first sign of trouble. There was no sign of life in the house (= there seemed to be nobody there). Her work is showing some signs of improvement. sign (of doing something) The gloomy weather shows no sign of improving. The fact that he didn't say ‘no’ immediately is a good sign. sign (that…) If an interview is too easy, it's a sure sign that you haven't got the job. There were no outward signs that anything was wrong. If I had noticed the warning signs, none of this would have happened. Synonymssignindication symptom symbol indicator signalThese are all words for an event, action or fact that shows that something exists, is happening or may happen in the future.sign an event, action or fact that shows that something exists, is happening or may happen in the future:Headaches may be a sign of stress.indication (rather formal) a remark or sign that shows that something is happening or what somebody is thinking or feeling:They gave no indication as to how the work should be done.sign or indication?An indication often comes in the form of something that somebody says; a sign is usually something that happens or something that somebody does.symptom a change in your body or mind that shows that you are not healthy; a sign that something exists, especially something bad:Symptoms include a sore throat. The rise in inflation was just one symptom of the poor state of the economy.symbol a person, object or event that represents a more general quality or situation:The dove is a universal symbol of peace.indicator (rather formal) a sign that shows you what something is like or how a situation is changing:the economic indicatorssignal an event, action or fact that shows that something exists, is happening or may happen in the future:Chest pains can be a warning signal of heart problems.sign or signal? Signal is often used to talk about an event, action or fact that suggests to somebody that they should do something. Sign is not usually used in this way:Reducing prison sentences would send the wrong signs to criminals.Patterns a(n) sign/​indication/​symptom/​symbol/​indicator/​signal of something a(n) sign/​indication/​symptom/​indicator/​signal that… a clear sign/​indication/​symptom/​symbol/​indicator/​signal an obvious sign/​indication/​symptom/​symbol/​indicator an early sign/​indication/​symptom/​indicator/​signal an outward sign/​indication/​symbol to give a(n) sign/​indication/​signal
  2. for information/warning
  3. 2  [countable] a piece of paper, wood or metal that has writing or a picture on it that gives you information, instructions, a warning, etc. a road/traffic sign a shop/pub sign The sign on the wall said ‘Now wash your hands’. Follow the signs for the city centre.
  4. movement/sound
  5. 3  [countable] a movement or sound that you make to tell somebody something He gave a thumbs-up sign. She nodded as a sign for us to sit down. Three blasts on the whistle was the sign for visitors to leave. to make the sign of the cross (= an act of moving one hand in the shape of a cross, done by Christians to show respect for God or by a priest to bless somebody/something) see also V-sign
  6. symbol
  7. 4  [countable] a mark used to represent something, especially in mathematics a plus/minus sign (= +/−) a dollar/pound sign (= $/£) See related entries: Mathematical terminology
  8. star sign
  9. 5[countable] (informal) = star sign What sign are you?
  10. Word OriginMiddle English: from Old French signe (noun), signer (verb), from Latin signum ‘mark, token’.Extra examples All the outward signs of growth in the market are there. All the signs pointed to it being more than just a coincidence. Are appliances you buy safe? We point out the danger signs. Bravo Two Zero was the call sign of an eight-man SAS team. By now the fish was showing signs of distress. Early signs point to business improving. Follow the road and you’ll see signs for the turn-off. Get this test if you have signs and symptoms of diabetes. He disappeared at the first sign of trouble. He displayed the classic signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. He drew a huge dollar sign on the paper. He gets $300 a week from the union for carrying a picket sign. He ignored the warning signs of mounting health problems. He might as well have been wearing a sign saying ‘I am a tourist’. He spoke up without the slightest sign of nervousness. He was silent. It was a good sign. He yelled at us for ignoring the stop sign. His face betrayed no sign of emotion. I can’t remember the sign for ‘square root’. I detected the subtle signs of disapproval. I hope this incident isn’t a sign of things to come. I put out a lawn sign in my yard. I used the Chinese sign for ‘father’ instead of ‘uncle’. It’s a real sign of the times: 30 small businesses face financial ruin this month. Just follow the signs for Bridgend. Look carefully for signs of damp. Mars rules the zodiac sign of Aries. She checked his vital signs and found that his pulse was slow. She gave me a thumbs-up sign. She made a peace sign while having her picture taken. Some of the marchers were holding up signs and placards. Someone had put up a ‘For Sale’ sign. Strong dislikes of foods are early signs of pregnancy. Strong likes or dislikes of various foods are another of the early signs of pregnancy. The demonstrators shouted and waved signs. The first signs of spring appeared. The lack of interest in the media is a telling sign of the industry’s health. The murder had all the signs of a crime of passion. The people regarded the earthquake as a sign from God. The priest made the sign of the cross over the dead body. The sign pointed down a narrow road. The sign read ‘No Fishing’. The warning signs were present from the start. The wizard drew some strange signs in the air with his wand. There was no sign of life in the house. There’s no sign of the snow stopping. They had to communicate through signs and grunts. This move will be seen as a sign of weakness. This sign indicates that cycling is allowed. We detected signs that they were less than enthusiastic about the holiday. We used sign language to talk. What does this sign mean? a T-shirt with a peace sign on it hundreds of signs bearing the single word ‘Peace’ people born under the sign of Gemini signs warning against trespass the sign for ‘woman’ in sign language the telltale signs of drug abuse the twelve astrological signs A man was up a ladder mending a shop sign. A sign on the wall said ‘Now wash your hands’. All the road signs are in both languages. Follow the signs for the Performing Arts Centre. If an interview is too easy, it’s a sure sign that you haven’t got the job. The fact that he didn’t say ‘no’ immediately is a good sign. a V-sign a plus/​minus sign a pound/​dollar signIdioms something that you feel shows what things are like now, especially how bad they are The increasing number of people owning guns is an alarming sign of the times.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: sign