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signify

[sig-nuh-fahy] /ˈsɪg nəˌfaɪ/
verb (used with object), signified, signifying.
1.
to make known by signs, speech, or action.
2.
to be a sign of; mean; portend.
verb (used without object), signified, signifying.
3.
to be of importance or consequence.
Origin of signify
1200-1250
1200-50; Middle English signifien < Old French signifier < Latin significāre to make a sign, indicate, mention, denote. See sign, -ify
Related forms
signifiable, adjective
unsignifiable, adjective
Synonyms
1. signal, express, indicate. 2. represent, indicate, denote, betoken, imply.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for signify
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I am probably what most folk call a gentleman; but how much does that signify in the twentieth century?

    The Record of Nicholas Freydon A. J. (Alec John) Dawson
  • Nelson replied: "Take your choice, Hardy, it does not signify much."

  • What does it signify to him whether there be religious truth or political justice?

    Tancred Benjamin Disraeli
  • What will signify expostulations against a ceremony performed?

    Clarissa, Volume 3 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
  • Just so, you remind me of a fact; but what does that signify?

    The Insurgent Chief Gustave Aimard
British Dictionary definitions for signify

signify

/ˈsɪɡnɪˌfaɪ/
verb (when transitive, may take a clause as object) -fies, -fying, -fied
1.
(transitive) to indicate, show, or suggest
2.
(transitive) to imply or portend: the clouds signified the coming storm
3.
(transitive) to stand as a symbol, sign, etc (for)
4.
(intransitive) (informal) to be significant or important
Derived Forms
signifiable, adjective
signifier, noun
Word Origin
C13: from Old French signifier, from Latin significāre, from signum a sign, mark + facere to make
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for signify
v.

late 13c., "be a sign of, indicate, mean," from Old French signifier (12c.), from Latin significare "to make signs, show by signs, point out, express; mean, signify; foreshadow, portend," from significus (adj.), from signum "sign" (see sign (n.)) + root of facere "to make" (see factitious). Intransitive sense of "to be of importance" is attested from 1660s. Meaning "engage in mock-hostile banter" is American English black slang first recorded 1932.

...'signifying,' which in Harlemese means making a series of oblique remarks apparently addressed to no one in particular, but unmistakable in intention in such a close-knit circle. ["Down Beat," March 7, 1968]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for signify

sight gag

noun phrase

A joke or comic turn that depends entirely on what is seen (1957+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Word Value for signify

14
15
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