American English

Definition of sign noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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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.
  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 street/stop sign a neon/EXIT sign The sign on the wall said “Employees must wash hands.” Follow the signs for the city center.
  4. movement/sound
  5. 3[countable] a movement or sound that you make to tell someone 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 someone or 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 sign ($)
  8. star sign
  9. 5[countable] (informal) = star sign What sign are you?
  10. Thesaurussignindication symptom symbol indicator signalThese are all words for an event, an action, or a 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 (somewhat formal) a remark or sign that shows that something is happening or what someone 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 someone says; a sign is usually something that happens or something that someone does.symptom a change in your body or mind that shows that you are not healthy; a sign that something exists, especially something bad:A sore throat may be a symptom of an ear infection. The rise in inflation was just one symptom of the poor state of the economy.symbol a person, an object, or an event that represents a more general quality or situation:The dove is a universal symbol of peace.indicator (somewhat formal) a sign that shows you what something is like or how a situation is changing:the economic indicators Healthy skin is an indicator of overall well-being.signal an event, an action, or a fact that shows that something exists, is happening, or may happen in the future:This latest decision is a signal of a major change in policy. Reducing prison sentences would send the wrong signals to criminals.sign or signal?Signal is often used to talk about an event, an action, or a fact that suggests to someone 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/signalIdioms
    a sign of the times
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    something that you feel shows what things are like now, especially how bad they are The growing number of people who own guns is an alarming sign of the times.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: sign