Etymology: Middle English signe, from Anglo-French, from Latin signum mark, token, sign, image, seal; perhaps akin to Latin secare to cut — more at saw
Date: 13th century
a. a motion or gesture by which a thought is expressed or a command or wish made known
b. signal 2a
c. a fundamental linguistic unit that designates an object or relation or has a purely syntactic function <signs include words, morphemes, and punctuation> d. one of a set of gestures used to represent language; also sign language 2. a mark having a conventional meaning and used in place of words or to represent a complex notion 3. one of the 12 divisions of the zodiac 4. a. (1) a character (as a flat or sharp) used in musical notation (2) segno b. a character (as ÷) indicating a mathematical operation; also one of two characters + and - that form part of the symbol of a number and characterize it as positive or negative 5. a. a display (as a lettered board or a configuration of neon tubing) used to identify or advertise a place of business or a product b. a posted command, warning, or direction c. signboard 6. a. something material or external that stands for or signifies something spiritual b. something indicating the presence or existence of something else <signs of success> <a sign of the times> c. presage, portent <signs of an early spring> d. an objective evidence of plant or animal disease 7. plural usually sign traces of a usually wild animal <red fox sign> Synonyms: sign, mark, token, note, symptom mean a discernible indication of what is not itself directly perceptible. sign applies to any indication to be perceived by the senses or the reason <encouraging signs for the economy>. mark suggests something impressed on or inherently characteristic of a thing often in contrast to general outward appearance <a mark of a good upbringing>. token applies to something that serves as a proof of something intangible <this gift is a token of our esteem>. note suggests a distinguishing mark or characteristic <a note of irony in her writing>. symptom suggests an outward indication of an internal change or condition <rampant crime is a symptom of that city's decay>. II. verb Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French signer, from Latin signare to mark, sign, seal, from signum Date: 13th century transitive verb 1. a. cross 2 b. to place a sign on or mark by signs <sign a trail> c. to represent or indicate by a sign 2. a. to affix a signature to ; ratify or attest by hand or seal <sign a bill into law> <sign a confession> b. to assign or convey formally <signed over his property to his brother> c. to write down (one's name) d. to affix one's name to <a signed review> 3. to communicate by making a sign or by sign language 4. to engage or hire by securing the signature of on a contract of employment — often used with up or on intransitive verb 1. to write one's name in token of assent, responsibility, or obligation <signed for the packages> <signed with the team for one season> 2. a. to make a sign or signal b. to use sign language • signee noun • signer noun
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.