Meaning of SIGN in English


I. sign 1 S3 W2 /saɪn/ BrE AmE noun

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ sign , ↑ signal , ↑ signatory , ↑ signature , ↑ signing , ↑ signaller ; verb : ↑ sign , ↑ signal ; adverb : ↑ signally ; adjective : signed ≠ ↑ unsigned ]

[ Date: 1200-1300 ; Language: Old French ; Origin: signe , from Latin signum 'mark, sign, image, seal' ]

1 . GIVES INFORMATION [countable] a piece of paper, metal, or wood with words or a picture that gives people information, warnings, or instructions:

a sign on the door

road signs

a no smoking sign

Don’t ignore the fog warning signs.

2 . SHOWS SOMETHING IS TRUE [countable] an event, fact etc that shows that something is happening or that something is true or exists SYN indication

sign of

A red morning sky is a sign of an impending storm.

Crying is seen as a sign of weakness.

A paw print in the dust was a sign that a tiger was close.

There are signs that the situation is improving.

There were no signs of forced entry into the house.

3 . MOVEMENT OR SOUND [countable] a movement, sound etc that you make in order to tell someone something:

the thumbs-up sign (=a sign that you make with your hand to show that something is successful)

give/make a sign

Wait until I give the sign.

sign that

Bruce made a sign that he was ready to leave.

sign (for somebody) to do something

Three short blasts on the whistle was the sign to begin.

4 . SYMBOL [countable] a mark or shape that has a particular meaning SYN symbol :

the dollar sign

a minus sign

5 . STAR SIGN [countable] ( also star sign ) a group of stars, representing one of 12 parts of the year, that some people believe influences your behaviour and your life:

What sign are you?

6 . LANGUAGE [uncountable] a language that uses hand movements instead of spoken words, used by people who cannot hear SYN sign language

7 . there is no sign of somebody/something used to say that someone or something is not in a place or cannot be found:

I waited for two hours but there was still no sign of her.

8 . sign of life

a) a movement that shows that someone is alive, or something that shows that there are people in a particular place:

She listened intently for signs of life.

b) something that shows that a situation is becoming more active:

Commercial property markets are now showing definite signs of life.

9 . sign of the times something that shows how people live now:

It’s just a sign of the times that many children have mobile phones.

10 . the sign of the Cross the hand movement that some Christians make in the shape of a cross, to show respect for God or to protect themselves from evil

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COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 2)


▪ a clear/obvious/unmistakable sign

There are clear signs of a slowdown in economic growth.

▪ a sure sign (=a very clear sign)

He was walking up and down, a sure sign that he was worried.

▪ a good/positive/encouraging/hopeful sign

If she can move her legs, that’s a good sign.

▪ a bad/ominous sign

The jury was taking ages to make up its mind, which he felt was probably a bad sign.

▪ an outward/visible sign (=one that people can see clearly)

Kim received the news without showing any visible sign of emotion.

▪ a warning sign (=one that shows something bad might be happening)

In this case, social workers missed the warning signs and failed to protect the children.

▪ a telltale/tell-tale sign (=signs that clearly show something bad)

She would not look at me directly, a tell-tale sign that she was embarrassed.

▪ the first sign of something (=the first thing that shows something is happening, or something exists)

They ran off at the first sign of trouble.

▪ an early sign (=a sign near the beginning of something that shows that it is happening, or that it exists)

an early sign of spring

■ verbs

▪ there are signs

There are now signs of an improvement in the economy.

▪ have signs

It had all the signs of a crime of passion.

▪ show signs of something

Did she show any signs of distress?

▪ bear signs of something (=have signs)

The bed was neatly made and bore no signs of having been slept in.

▪ see/detect signs of something

I could see some signs of improvement in her health.

• • •


▪ sign [countable] an event, fact etc that shows that something is happening or that something is true or exists:

The curtains were still drawn and there was no sign of activity.


A score of 80 or more is a sign that you are doing very well.

▪ indication [countable] a sign. Indication is more formal than sign :

Recently there have been several indications of improving relations.


There was no indication the killings were related to the drug trade.

▪ evidence [uncountable] facts or signs that show clearly that something exists or is true, especially something that you are trying to prove:

Scientists are hoping to find evidence that there was once life on Mars.


There was not enough evidence to convict him of the murder.

▪ symptom [countable] a sign that someone has an illness or that a serious problem exists:

The first symptoms are tiredness and loss of weight.


Is this a symptom of the decay of Western civilization?

▪ indicator [countable] a sign that shows you what is happening or what is true – used about a process, or about the state or level of something:

There are a number of indicators of economic slowdown.


The tests are considered a good indicator of intelligence.

▪ signal [countable] a sign that shows that you should do something, or that you have a particular attitude:

Severe chest pain is a warning signal that cannot be ignored.


Legalizing drugs could send the wrong signal to young people.

▪ mark [countable] a sign, especially that you respect or honour someone:

People stood in silence as a mark of respect.


It was a mark of her popularity that so many colleagues and friends attended the presentation.

II. sign 2 S2 W2 BrE AmE verb

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ sign , ↑ signal , ↑ signatory , ↑ signature , ↑ signing , ↑ signaller ; verb : ↑ sign , ↑ signal ; adverb : ↑ signally ; adjective : signed ≠ ↑ unsigned ]

[ Date: 1300-1400 ; Language: Old French ; Origin: signer , from Latin signare , from signum ; ⇨ ↑ sign 1 ]

1 . NAME [intransitive and transitive] to write your ↑ signature on something to show that you wrote it, agree with it, or were present:

Sign here, please.

The artist had signed his name in the corner of the painting.

You forgot to sign the cheque.

Over a hundred people have signed the petition.

Serena signs her autograph every time she’s asked.

a signed photo of Paul McCartney

2 . sign an agreement/contract/treaty etc to make a document, agreement etc official and legal by writing your ↑ signature on it:

France has just signed a new trade deal with Japan.

3 . MUSIC/SPORT [intransitive and transitive] if a football team or music company signs someone, or if someone signs for them, that person signs a contract in which they agree to work for them:

CBS Records had signed her back in 1988 on a three-album contract.

sign for/to/with

Miller worked in the shipyards before signing for Rangers.

Before long, they had signed with Virgin.

4 . sign on the dotted line informal to officially agree to something by signing a contract:

Make sure the repairs are done before you sign on the dotted line.

5 . sign a bill/legislation/agreement into law if someone in authority signs something into law, they make it part of the law by signing an official document

6 . (all) signed and sealed ( also (all) signed, sealed, and delivered ) with all the necessary legal documents signed:

It’ll all be signed and sealed by Friday, and you can move in then.

7 . USE MOVEMENTS [intransitive] to try to tell someone something or ask them to do something by using signs and movements SYN signal

sign to somebody to do something

He signed to the maid to leave the room.

sign for somebody to do something

She signed for us to go inside.

8 . LANGUAGE [intransitive and transitive] to use, or translate something into, ↑ sign language

—signer noun [countable]

• • •


▪ write to use a pen or pencil to make words, letters etc:

Have you written a shopping list?


The children are learning to read and write.

▪ write something down to write something on paper, in order to remember it or make a record:

He wrote down everything she said.

▪ put to write something in a particular place, or to write particular words:

I’ve put the dates of the meetings in my diary.


At the end of the email she put ‘PS I love you’.

▪ put something in writing to write something that you have agreed or promised, so that there is an official record:

They said they would pay me 50%, but they haven’t actually put it in writing.

▪ make a note of something to write information that you might need later:

I’ll just make a note of your address.


Make a note in your diary.

▪ take notes to write things while someone is speaking or while something is happening, so that you can use them later:

His lawyer was with him taking notes.

▪ scrawl /skrɔːl $ skrɒːl/ to write something carelessly and untidily, especially in big letters – often used to show disapproval:

Someone had scrawled graffiti on the school wall.


He’d scrawled a few unhelpful comments at the bottom of my work.

▪ fill something in/out to write information on a form or other official document:

Please fill in the application form in black ink.


Would you mind filling out a questionnaire?

▪ sign to write your name at the end of a letter, document etc:

Read the contract carefully, and then sign it.


Don’t forget to sign your name.

sign something ↔ away phrasal verb

to sign a document that gives your property or legal rights to someone else:

She had signed away all claims to the house.

I felt as if I was signing away my life.

sign for something phrasal verb

to sign a document to prove that you have received something:

This is a registered letter – someone will have to sign for it.

sign in phrasal verb

1 . to write your name on a form, in a book etc when you enter a place such as a hotel, office, or club:

Remember to sign in at reception.

2 . sign somebody ↔ in to write someone else’s name in a book so that they are allowed to enter a club, an office etc

sign off phrasal verb

1 . informal to end a radio or television programme by saying goodbye

2 . to write your final message at the end of an informal letter:

It’s getting late, so I’ll sign off now. Love, John.

3 . sign somebody off British English if a doctor signs someone off, he or she gives them a note saying that they are ill and not able to work:

For the last month, she has been signed off sick from work.

4 . sign something ↔ off British English , sign off on something American English to show that you approve of a plan or that something is finished by signing an official document:

Major repainting work now needs to be signed off by a qualified engineer.

sign on phrasal verb

1 . British English to state officially that you are unemployed by signing a form, so that you can get money from the government

2 . to sign a document to show that you agree to work for someone

sign on as

He signed on as a soldier in the US army.

sign on with

I’ll probably have to sign on with a nursing agency.

sign out phrasal verb

1 . to write your name in a book when you leave a place such as a hotel, an office, or a club

2 . sign something ↔ out to write your name on a form or in a book to show that you have taken or borrowed something:

Bernstein signed out a company car.

3 . sign somebody ↔ out to write in a book that someone is allowed to leave somewhere such as a school, an office etc:

Parents must sign pupils out when collecting them for doctor’s or dentist’s appointments.

sign something ↔ over phrasal verb

to sign an official document that gives your property or legal rights to someone else

sign something ↔ over to

When he became ill, he signed his property in France over to his son.

sign up phrasal verb

1 . to put your name on a list for something because you want to take part in it

sign up for

I’m thinking of signing up for a yoga course.

sign up to do something

Over half the people who signed up to do engineering were women.

2 . sign somebody ↔ up if someone is signed up by an organization, they sign a contract in which they agree to work for that organization:

Several well-known researchers have been signed up for the project.

III. ˈstar sign BrE AmE ( also sign ) noun [countable]

one of the 12 signs of the ↑ zodiac (=the system that uses people’s birth dates to say what will happen to them in the future)

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.