Meaning of SIGNAL in English

I. ˈsignəl, -n ə l noun

( -s )

Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French seignal, segnel, signal, from Medieval Latin signale, from Late Latin, neuter of signalis of a sign, from Latin signum sign + -alis -al — more at sign

1. obsolete : emblem , symbol

2. archaic : token , indication

in signal of my love to thee — Shakespeare


a. : an act, event, or watchword that has been agreed upon as the occasion of concerted action

signal fires of rebellion

b. : something that incites to action : an immediate cause or impulse

his remark was the signal for a storm of weeping


a. : a sound or gesture made to give warning or command

signal that warns of an air raid

waiting for the signal to open fire

b. : an object placed to convey notice or warning: as

(1) : a device (as a colored light) for regulating vehicular or pedestrian traffic

(2) : a device used to warn trainmen or persons approaching a railroad of danger or to convey orders or information to a train crew

5. : an object (as a flag on a pole) centered over a point so as to be observed from other positions in surveying


a. : an identifying tab (as of a thumb index) fastened to a book leaf at its fore edge

b. : a small projecting tab that attaches to the edge of a card or folder as an aid in filing or indexing

7. : a play indicating to one's partner in a card game that one holds certain cards or desires a certain play

8. : the beam of light reflected from the face of a crystal rotated into a particular position in a goniometer


a. : an object used to transmit or convey information beyond the range of human voice

flying a flag as a distress signal

b. : the intelligence, message, sound, or image conveyed in telegraphy, telephony, radio, radar, or television

c. : a detectable physical quantity or impulse (as a voltage, current, magnetic field strength) by which messages or information can be transmitted

10. : a speech sound or form or combination of sounds and forms that communicates a meaning or a difference in meaning — compare morpheme , phoneme

II. verb

( signaled or signalled ; signaled or signalled ; signaling or signalling ; signals )

transitive verb

1. : to notify by a signal : make a signal to

signaled his wife to leave the room

signaled the fleet to turn back


a. : to communicate (a message) by signals

signal orders to a field unit

b. : announce by signal

the ship signaled her departure with warning blasts on the whistle

c. : to determine or fix (meaning) in a speech utterance

the kind of sentence … is signaled by special contrastive patterns in the arrangement of … parts of speech — C.C.Fries

: constitute a characteristic feature of (a meaningful linguistic form)

plurality is usually signaled by s

3. : signalize

waiter with tray signals a café — National Geographic

intransitive verb

: to make or send a signal

frantically signaling with both arms

III. adjective

Etymology: modification of French signalé, past participle of signaler to distinguish, from Old Italian segnalare to signal, distinguish, from segnale signal, from Medieval Latin signale

1. : distinguished from what is ordinary : noticeable , outstanding

signal achievement

students of signal promise

signal experience

2. : significative , distinctive

signal markings

3. : employed or used in signaling

signal beacon

signal flags

signal corps

Synonyms: see noticeable

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.