Definition of countersign in English:



[with object]
  • Add a signature to (a document already signed by another person)

    ‘each cheque had to be signed and countersigned’
    • ‘He contended that the premier's decision was not made on behalf of the government of KwaZulu-Natal, because it had not been countersigned by another executive member.’
    • ‘In emergency situations, the prescription order must be countersigned by the prescribing physician or dentist within 72 hours.’
    • ‘When I first started work as a Health Care Assistant we were allowed to document any care or other relevant details that we had given to a particular patient in their files, this always had to be countersigned by the Registered Nurse.’
    • ‘On 27 October 1994 Mr Amersi countersigned the letter accepting that basis.’
    • ‘Generally speaking, where the proceeds are for less than £10,000, most life companies will be happy to accept a straightforward lost-policy declaration, countersigned by anyone over the age of 18 who is not a relative.’
    • ‘This document was countersigned by Ennis, the company secretary.’
    • ‘Patients received a letter from their medical facility countersigned by the project director informing them about the study and about a phone call to follow.’
    • ‘The results, with comments, were then entered on the term report, countersigned by the form teacher and head and sent to the respective parents.’
    • ‘Many schools run a system whereby parents are asked to sign the homework diary every week, which is countersigned by the tutor.’
    • ‘Finally, we signed and countersigned a declaration that under no circumstances would we dive deeper than 6m, nor deviate from the officially designated route as indicated by the phosphorescent orange guide ropes.’
    • ‘The Pharmacy Department requires that all Surfactant orders be signed or countersigned by the staff neonatologist.’
    • ‘The complainant countersigned the inspection form.’
    • ‘A record in the resident's money book showed the details of the money transferred into this account from their personal account for the purchases, and ‘this is signed by the resident and countersigned by the nursing officer in charge’.’
    • ‘To avoid any future problems he is recommending that joint submissions on behalf of colleagues should be countersigned by the councillors concerned.’
    • ‘When a postal vote is delivered, it comes with a declaration form which must be signed by the voter and countersigned by a friend or relative.’
    • ‘The waiver is countersigned by a representative of the jurisdictional public health agency of the person's intended U.S. destination.’
    • ‘The Proclamation which you have just heard read by the Governor-General's Official Secretary was countersigned by Malcolm Fraser.’
    • ‘The message, framed by America and countersigned by Britain, has been duly delivered, with impressive speed and efficiency.’
    • ‘Via their parents, all were sent an information sheet, questionnaire (to establish smoking status), consent form to be countersigned by a guardian, and a freepost return envelope.’
    • ‘White and Jones were also found guilty of conspiracy to defraud the council by countersigning cheques for each other from the school fund.’
    ratify, endorse, confirm, approve, agree to, accept, consent to, assent to, affirm, authorize, make valid, sanction, formalize, recognize, legalize, legitimize, warrant, license, certify
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  • A signal or password given in reply to a soldier on guard.

    ‘advance, patrol, and give the countersign to me’
    • ‘I don't know the signs and countersigns and all the other earnest nonsense that the Crownkillers who have the time for such things play with in the north.’
    • ‘In the dark, Smalls pretended to be the captain and, from his previous experiences, was able to provide all the correct countersigns to challenges from the various harbor fortifications.’
    • ‘If two soldiers have the day's password and countersign, they can get physically close enough to kill each other without knowing that their uniforms don't match or their language isn't even the same.’
    • ‘Practice for issuing and using the parole varied over time and between armies: often it was paired with a countersign, uttered in response.’


Late 16th century (as a noun): from French contresigner (verb), contresigne (noun), from Italian contrassegno, based on Latin signum ‘sign’.