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(1)   Structure displaying a board on which advertisements can be posted
"The highway was lined with signboards"
(2)   A perceptible indication of something not immediately apparent (as a visible clue that something has happened)
"He showed signs of strain"
"They welcomed the signs of spring"
(3)   Any communication that encodes a message
"Signals from the boat suddenly stopped"
(4)   A public display of a (usually written) message
"He posted signs in all the shop windows"
(5)   A character indicating a relation between quantities
"Don't forget the minus sign"
(6)   A gesture that is part of a sign language
(7)   A fundamental linguistic unit linking a signifier to that which is signified
"The bond between the signifier and the signified is arbitrary"--de Saussure
(8)   An event that is experienced as indicating important things to come
"He hoped it was an augury"
"It was a sign from God"
(9)   (astrology) one of 12 equal areas into which the zodiac is divided
(10)   Having an indicated pole (as the distinction between positive and negative electric charges)
"He got the polarity of the battery reversed"
"Charges of opposite sign"
(11)   (medicine) any objective evidence of the presence of a disorder or disease
"There were no signs of asphyxiation"


(12)   Make the sign of the cross over someone in order to call on God for protection; consecrate
(13)   Be engaged by a written agreement
"He signed to play the casino on Dec. 18"
"The soprano signed to sing the new opera"
(14)   Communicate in sign language
"I don't know how to sign, so I could not communicate with my deaf cousin"
(15)   Mark with one's signature; write one's name (on)
"She signed the letter and sent it off"
"Please sign here"
(16)   Communicate silently and non-verbally by signals or signs
"He signed his disapproval with a dismissive hand gesture"
"The diner signaled the waiters to bring the menu"
(17)   Place signs, as along a road
"Sign an intersection"
"This road has been signed"
(18)   Engage by written agreement
"They signed two new pitchers for the next season"
(19)   Approve and express assent, responsibility, or obligation
"All parties ratified the peace treaty"
"Have you signed your contract yet?"

Etymology 1

From , from ; root uncertain.


  1. A visible indication.
    Their angry expressions were a clear sign they didn't want to talk.
    Those clouds show signs of raining soon.
    Those clouds show little sign of raining soon.
  2. A clearly visible object, generally flat, bearing a short message in words or pictures.
    The sign in the window said "for rent".
  3. A traffic sign.
    I missed the sign at the corner so I took the wrong turn.
  4. A meaningful gesture.
    I gave them a thumbs-up sign.
  5. Any of several specialized non-alphabetic symbols.
    The sharp sign indicates that the pitch of the note is raised a half step.
  6. An astrological sign.
    Your sign is Taurus? That's no surprise.
  7. Positive or negative polarity.
    I got the magnitude right, but the sign was wrong.
  8. A linguistic unit in sign language equivalent to word in spoken languages.
    What's the sign for "computer"?
  9. sign language in general
    Sorry, I don't know sign very well.
  10. An omen.
    "It's a sign of the end of the world," the doom prophet said.

Etymology 2

From , from , from ; see sign as a noun.


  1. To write one's signature on (a document), thus showing authorship.
    I forgot to sign that letter to my aunt.
  2. To give legal consent by writing one's signature.
    I'm not signing anything without my lawyer present.
  3. To persuade to sign a contract.
    It was a great month. I managed to sign three major players.
  4. To write one's signature somewhere.
    Please sign on the dotted line.
  5. To give autographs.
    I'm sorry, I don't sign.
  6. To communicate using sign language.
    I'm learning to sign so I can talk to my new neighbor.