Meaning of SIGNAL in English

/ ˈsɪgnəl; NAmE / noun , verb , adjective

■ noun


a movement or sound that you make to give sb information, instructions, a warning, etc.

SYN sign :

a danger / warning / distress etc. signal

At an agreed signal they left the room.

The siren was a signal for everyone to leave the building.

When I give the signal , run!

( NAmE )

All I get is a busy signal when I dial his number (= his phone is being used) .

hand signals (= movements that cyclists and drivers make with their hands to tell other people that they are going to stop, turn, etc.)

—see also turn signal


an event, an action, a fact, etc. that shows that sth exists or is likely to happen

SYN indication :

The rise in inflation is a clear signal that the government's policies are not working.

Chest pains can be a warning signal of heart problems.

Reducing prison sentences would send the wrong signals to criminals.

➡ note at sign


a piece of equipment that uses different coloured lights to tell drivers to go slower, stop, etc., used especially on railways / railroads and roads :

traffic signals

a stop signal


a series of electrical waves that carry sounds, pictures or messages, for example to a radio or television :

TV signals

a high frequency signal

a radar signal

to detect / pick up signals

to emit a signal

■ verb ( -ll- , US -l- )


signal (to sb) to make a movement or sound to give sb a message, an order, etc. :

[ v ]

Don't fire until I signal.

Did you signal before you turned right?

He signalled to the waiter for the bill.

[ vn ]

The referee signalled a foul.

[ v ( that )]

She signalled (that) it was time to leave.

[ v to inf ]

He signalled to us to join him.

[ vn to inf ]

She signalled him to follow.

[ v wh- ]

You must signal which way you are going to turn.


[ vn ] to be a sign that sth exists or is likely to happen

SYN indicate :

This announcement signalled a clear change of policy.

The scandal surely signals the end of his political career.


to do sth to make your feelings or opinions known :

[ vn ]

He signalled his discontent by refusing to vote.

[ v ( that )]

She has signalled (that) she is willing to stand as a candidate.

■ adjective

[ only before noun ] ( formal ) important :

a signal honour

►  sig·nal·ly / -nəli; NAmE / adverb :

They have signally failed to keep their election promises.



verb and noun late Middle English : from Old French , from medieval Latin signale , neuter of late Latin signalis , from Latin signum mark, token. The verb dates from the early 19th cent.

adjective early 17th cent.: from French signalé , from the Italian past participle segnalato distinguished, made illustrious, from segnale a signal.

Oxford Advanced Learner's English Dictionary.      Оксфордский английский словарь для изучающик язык на продвинутом уровне.