Definition of sign in English:



  • 1An object, quality, or event whose presence or occurrence indicates the probable presence or occurrence of something else.

    ‘flowers are often given as a sign of affection’
    [with clause] ‘the shops are full, which is a sign that the recession is past its worst’
    • ‘Next, the children drew pictures to represent some signs of spring.’
    • ‘He had visited Clements at her home to assess the dogs and said neither of them presented any signs of aggressive behaviour, even when he deliberately goaded them.’
    • ‘While reluctant to pinpoint the event as a sign of renewed faction fighting, he said police were monitoring the situation.’
    • ‘While services have been leading in their global reach, manufacturing industry is also showing signs of global presence.’
    • ‘These are signs of quality and consistency, backed by total assurance.’
    • ‘The economy is also showing clear signs of recovery after facing several years of cyclical and structural problems.’
    • ‘These events provoked the first signs of an intellectual disenchantment in Britain.’
    • ‘The reality, according to Leon, was that matric exemption was no longer a sign of quality education.’
    • ‘Today, we can say that parapsychology in our country presents its first signs of maturity.’
    • ‘We see our past achievements as the end results of a clean forward thrust, and our present difficulties as signs of decline and decay.’
    • ‘The 1960s were the decade when student revolt became a serious political phenomenon, but small signs of resistance were present before then.’
    • ‘The warning signs were present; I just didn't recognize or act on them.’
    • ‘These are just some of the signs presented in a recent book that point to an unexpected similarity between the wise birds and humans.’
    • ‘It used to be thought that wine drinkers in Britain loved the taste of oak, and that we believed it was a sign of quality.’
    • ‘The probe had been due to search for signs of past or present life on Mars using cutting edge technology.’
    • ‘A couple of days after I bought it, I saw the first sign of trouble.’
    • ‘Methane has been found in the Martian atmosphere which scientists say could be a sign of present-day life on Mars.’
    • ‘The fund-raisers of South Lakeland and Furness are showing no signs of fatigue as events continue across the district in aid of the Asian earthquake appeal.’
    • ‘Scottish rugby may still be a long way from this lamentable state of affairs but it could be argued that the warning signs are present.’
    • ‘All the signs of anxiety were present, and yet he still denied that he cared about how he did in the exams.’
    indication, signal, symptom, hint, pointer, suggestion, intimation, mark, manifestation, demonstration
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Something regarded as an indication of what is happening or going to happen.
      ‘the signs are that counterfeiting is growing at an alarming rate’
      • ‘But so far, the signs are that that won't put Kenyans off, voting Kibaki in.’
      • ‘While the signs are that he is taking a vigorous approach to cabinet discipline, we hope to hear soon that he has also done that strategic, visionary thinking.’
      • ‘The signs were that the presidency could ultimately be decided in the big swing states of Ohio and Florida.’
      • ‘Are hostile reactions to change a sign that cultural adaptation is already under way?’
      • ‘All the signs are, though, that the merger of CGU with Norwich Union to form the UK's largest insurance company could be good news for York.’
      • ‘All the signs are, then, that more and more vessels carrying petroleum will be frequenting these waters in coming years.’
      • ‘Your reaction to your recent birthday may be a sign that you are dissatisfied with your life in more general terms.’
      • ‘The signs are that an even larger storm is coming soon.’
      • ‘We haven't seen any clear signs indicating the industry is approaching bottom.’
      • ‘Hemingbrough are struggling to come to terms with life in the top division although the signs are that they are improving despite their reversal at Stockton and Hopgrove.’
      • ‘‘The signs are my game is coming back,’ said Westwood after Muirfield.’
      • ‘The signs were already there, however, that Hawick's pack might hold the key to this victory, because they were dominant in the tight situations.’
      • ‘The signs were there that the country would not tolerate that, so the attack should have surprised few intelligent people.’
      • ‘So if you were hoping all the pointless, stupid controversy of the 2000 election would come to an end after this November, the signs aren't good.’
      • ‘The signs are that his wish is about to be answered.’
      • ‘In the longer term, it is hoped that the strategy will improve customer retention and the signs are that this is happening.’
      • ‘But this time, the signs are very promising that change is on the way.’
      • ‘If that happens, and the signs are increasingly that it will, a historic turning point will have been reached.’
      • ‘Like future terrorist acts, we can't be absolutely certain what will happen, but all the signs are there.’
      • ‘All the signs were that they would not co-operate.’
      portent, omen, warning, forewarning, augury, presage
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2[with negative]Used to indicate that someone or something is not where they should be or are expected to be.
      ‘there was still no sign of her’
      • ‘Still, with no sign of the kids, I hope we don't have a repeat performance this evening.’
      • ‘We need a proper debate about it, but there is no sign of one at the moment.’
      • ‘There was still no sign of any police ten minutes after I phoned them so I made a decision.’
      • ‘There was still no sign of it five days later, and so began two weeks of hell.’
      • ‘Another week had passed, after all, and still there was no sign of new arrivals.’
      • ‘There was no sign of a campaign of civil disobedience planned by water sports enthusiasts.’
      • ‘They may be on the verge of an appointment but there's no sign of an announcement as yet.’
      • ‘Say you've ordered your meal, and some time has passed and there's no sign of it.’
      • ‘At midnight, with no sign of Sandy, we left some sandwiches in the drawing room and went to bed.’
      • ‘But there was no sign of the hesitation in their play or lack of creativity in attack.’
      • ‘I went down all the alleyways and garages and called his name, but I there was no sign of him not even a meow.’
      • ‘I just bend down to lift the handle of my suitcase and as I come up there is no sign of Frank anywhere.’
      • ‘He went into the room and saw the window was broken, but no sign of his brother.’
      • ‘There is a no sign of an end to the influx, with tens of thousands more expected to arrive in the next few months.’
      • ‘Across the room and to the right is a young woman and again there's no sign of a baby.’
      • ‘A few minutes later they found her bicycle and newspapers in the road but there was no sign of Genette.’
      • ‘There was no sign of any food or water in the buildings in which they were kept.’
      • ‘With no sign of John, I did my best to keep the conversation going and the glasses full.’
      • ‘There's no sign of any of them as I enter the town early one sunny Friday morning.’
      • ‘Using her own set of keys, she let herself in but there was no sign of her mother.’
    3. 1.3Medicine An indication of a disease detectable by a medical practitioner even if not apparent to the patient.
      ‘clinical signs of liver disease’
      Compare with symptom
      • ‘These signs can indicate the presence of Insulin Resistance which may later manifest as frank diabetes.’
      • ‘None of the patients had clinical signs of ulcerogenic disease.’
      • ‘Patients who demonstrated signs of angina pectoris or severe arrhythmia or had diabetes mellitus were excluded from our study.’
      • ‘Finally, a subject who is asymptomatic, with no signs of liver disease should be labelled as a healthy carrier.’
      • ‘Contracture of the palmar fascia, like palmar erythema, is often cited as a sign of chronic liver disease.’
    4. 1.4A miracle regarded as evidence of supernatural power (chiefly in biblical and literary use)
      ‘he observed signs and miracles taking place’
      • ‘Whilst some say cases such as these are mere coincidence others believe they are miracles and signs from God.’
      • ‘The Jewish people were accustomed to the concept of signs and wonders.’
      • ‘The Pharisees and Sadducees came looking for a sign and the signs were all around them.’
      • ‘In that era, the French and the Germans, like the British, believed their wealth and power were divine signs of their virtue.’
      • ‘For the church after Acts did not have the miracles and signs of the kingdom, but the truth concerning the church which is the body of Christ.’
    5. 1.5North American [mass noun]The trail of a wild animal.
      ‘wolverine sign’
      • ‘But the signs were puzzling as they led us to every type of animal, from penguins to lions, EXCEPT the giant panda.’
      • ‘However, the interpretation of sign at nests to classify nest predators was almost wholly ineffective.’
  • 2A gesture or action used to convey information or an instruction.

    ‘she gave him the thumbs-up sign’
    • ‘At best, they receive a few quizzical stares, a couple of thumbs-up signs and a desperate waving of white flags.’
    • ‘One young guy's apparent crime was holding his fingers in a peace sign in front of the troops.’
    • ‘The custom of joining the hands in the sign of prayer is the greeting one receives from a stranger and is unique to Sanatana Dharma.’
    • ‘As he was being wheeled off the field, he gave us the thumbs-up sign, which told us to keep playing hard and that he would be all right.’
    • ‘He followed her gaze and hid a grin when he saw a young woman flash a thumbs-up sign at Bella.’
    • ‘Staff involved in the scam would have helped customers win using a subtle system of signs and then taken a payback from their winnings.’
    • ‘Her hand flew to cover her mouth in the sign of shock and despair.’
    • ‘Upon their arrival at the station, Dion was met with claps on the back and countless thumbs-up signs.’
    • ‘Not wanting to blow my cover, I gave her an elaborate gang sign using both hands and most of my fingers.’
    • ‘When asked what Dad was like in the classroom, she beams and gives the thumbs-up sign.’
    • ‘I just gave him my best peace sign and nodded.’
    • ‘She was smiling and had both of her hands giving me the thumbs-up sign.’
    • ‘When he passed two of the men sitting mid-cabin, he gave a thumbs-up sign.’
    • ‘He nodded slightly and raised a still gloved left hand to give her a thumbs-up sign along with a weary smile.’
    • ‘As expressive off the pitch as he is on it, the tell-tale facial signs which accompany every word uttered paint an informative picture.’
    • ‘He turned towards her and made the sign of peace.’
    • ‘Some adults gave thumbs-up signs, others watched sullenly as the 60 vehicles, bristling with weapons, crawled past.’
    • ‘With the best control he can muster, he makes the sign of the Median over Caidryn's body and utters a brief prayer for her soul.’
    • ‘I resorted to signs and gestures, in a peculiar multi-lingual game of charades.’
    • ‘Hunting in small groups, often with other men, they communicated silently as they went, using a wide range of hand and facial signs and gestures.’
    gesture, signal, wave, gesticulation, cue, nod
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1An action or reaction that conveys something about someone.
      ‘she gave no sign of having seen him’
      • ‘He always accepted the smallest invitation or the most insignificant present with outward signs of pleasure.’
      • ‘Zelda's eyes widened at this unexpected reaction, but other than that she showed no signs of fear.’
      • ‘She tried to find some sign of understanding in his eyes but they seemed vacant, as if he were in a dream.’
      • ‘He stood up ‘Let's go’ he said as I presented no signs of moving from my seat.’
      • ‘He seemed like he was talking about someone else, without any sign of shame and remorse, and without any emotional involvement.’
      • ‘But on Sunday he displayed no obvious signs of distress and bowled quite comfortably.’
      • ‘I might even say that such a reaction is a sign of profound ingratitude.’
      • ‘Tara said happily, but the sign of hunger and boredom lingered in her eyes.’
      • ‘When I chose to go away to Bombay and entered Hindi films, he never ever said a word about it, let alone gave any sign of reproach.’
      • ‘They said they would have liked to have seen some obvious sign of remorse from the young man.’
    2. 2.2A gesture used in a system of sign language.
      • ‘These findings suggest that the addition of signs to speech facilitates word recognition by deaf children.’
      • ‘He said the church was currently running classes for its members and that it expected the number of those able to communicate through signs, to increase.’
      • ‘You see, sign language contains no signs for abstract words and notions.’
      • ‘The system is based on simple signs and gestures derived from British Sign Language for the deaf taught through song.’
      • ‘Because ASL is based on natural gestures, most signs are incredibly easy to learn.’
      • ‘Use is made of repeated signs to convey such notions as plurality, degree, or emphasis.’
    3. 2.3
      short for sign language
      • ‘Every classroom should have a deaf teacher as well as one who can hear so that children are exposed to both sign and spoken language simultaneously.’
    4. 2.4A symbol or word used to represent an operation, instruction, concept, or object in algebra, music, or other subjects.
      ‘the integral sign ∫’
      • ‘The linguistic sign is neither conceptual nor phonic, neither thought nor sound.’
      • ‘In cuneiform writing, words are represented by signs incised into clay tablets by a wedge-shaped instrument.’
      • ‘The sign hamza also represents a glottal stop and is transliterated in the same way.’
      • ‘For Lacan, the ego is not the central agency of the personality but a false self haunted by the unconscious and conceptualized around linguistic signs.’
      • ‘The addition signs represent the interaction of the reactants and are used to separate and list the products formed.’
      • ‘In claiming, in this book, that language is essentially symbolic, I am alluding to the status of linguistic signs as symbols, rather than as icons or indexes.’
      • ‘The website is a brilliant resource for details on various symbols and signs and perfect for sigil ideas.’
      • ‘The short appoggiatura was then notated by the new sign.’
      • ‘A symbol is a sign used to represent something other than itself.’
      • ‘When using the formula, pay close attention to arithmetic signs and treat them algebraically.’
      • ‘This request presented the informant with a problem, for he had no conception of signs representing just a vowel or a consonant, and for a long time his efforts were derided.’
      • ‘He writes on a white pad of paper, wavy lines and strange signs, mathematical symbols.’
      • ‘Double-bodied, or bi-corporeal signs are those represented by two figures.’
      • ‘The earliest forms of writing used simple pictorial signs to represent objects.’
      • ‘Ge'ez is easily adapted to melody because each sign represents a syllable.’
      • ‘Thus axioms and theorems can never try to lay down the meaning of a sign or word that occurs in them, but it must already be laid down.’
      • ‘It begins with signs (graphemes and words) building to propositions which attempt to develop perception.’
      symbol, mark, cipher, letter, character, numeral, figure, type, code, hieroglyph
      View synonyms
    5. 2.5A word or gesture given according to prior arrangement as a means of identification; a password.
      • ‘Many marginalists use non-verbal codes - private signs and symbols recognised only by them.’
  • 3A notice on public display that gives information or instructions in a written or symbolic form.

    ‘I didn't see the ‘Stop’ sign’
    • ‘A sign by the path warned all joggers and walkers to keep to the well lit areas.’
    • ‘They live opposite a flashing sign urging drivers to reduce their speed to 30 mph.’
    • ‘I saw no cautionary signs let alone stop or give way.’
    • ‘Just about every pub displays a sign or notice advising women to keep an eye on their drinks.’
    • ‘It will be recommended to put up three new real time passenger information signs at bus stops near the station.’
    • ‘Around the city, information kiosks have still to be put up while multi-lingual signs at bus stops, along streets and highways are a rarity.’
    • ‘The doctors on duty displayed stickers and signs expressing their solidarity with those on strike and with the demonstrations.’
    • ‘At first glance, townspeople would notice 38 signs dotted around the town advertising the zone, if approval comes from the district council.’
    • ‘Many times, a community will ask the local authorities to put in a stop sign or traffic light at a dangerous corner.’
    • ‘It may be better to hide the cameras themselves and simply have signs warning of their presence.’
    • ‘I tried to confine my map-reading to traffic lights and stop signs, I really did.’
    • ‘I saw some graffiti yesterday on a street crossing sign.’
    • ‘Following it, Alexander presently saw some signs pointing pedestrians in the correct direction.’
    • ‘Driving to work this past Sunday evening, I was pulled over by a cop for failing to stop at a stop sign.’
    • ‘The parents of a boy hit by a car yards from their front door have refused to take down a series of homemade signs urging drivers to slow down.’
    • ‘Nothing was that different from what could be seen in Los Angeles, except that the signs were all in French and there were no SUVs in sight.’
    • ‘Another 32 of the signs are to be placed at strategic points around the city, following on from a similar project that has worked successfully in Leeds.’
    • ‘Government, in the form of traffic lights and stop signs and rules and regulations for driving, is absolutely required.’
    • ‘The same logo hangs over cabin toilets and on deck rails, with signs urging passengers not to throw trash overboard.’
    • ‘A teenaged driver who has been drinking beer does not notice the stop sign and hits the passenger side of the woman's car.’
    notice, signpost, signboard, warning sign, road sign, traffic sign
    View synonyms
  • 4Astrology
    Each of the twelve equal sections into which the zodiac is divided, named from the constellations formerly situated in each, and associated with successive periods of the year according to the position of the sun on the ecliptic.

    ‘a sign of the Zodiac’
    ‘a person born under the sign of Virgo’
    • ‘In the water signs of Scorpio and Pisces we see a different expression of this energy.’
    • ‘Each crop type must then be planted on a day when the moon is in a sign of the zodiac associated with that element.’
    • ‘If a planet is situated in a sign which opposes its own it is said to be in detriment, a word which literally means to be harmed or damaged.’
    • ‘It is the sign associated with intemperance and a craving for emotional excitement and sensuality.’
    • ‘While you experience a smoother flow of energy under the sign of Virgo, you sometimes feel bored by the lack of tension.’
  • 5Mathematics
    The positiveness or negativeness of a quantity.

    ‘the last four bits hold a pattern to represent the sign of the number’
    • ‘The sign of the constant of proportion, c, in the equation above, will determine whether the process is one of growth or of decay.’
    • ‘Depending on the sign of [d], the dominance ratio was classified as either negative or positive.’
    • ‘We show that the type of host lipid determines not only the absolute value but also the sign of the gating charge.’
    • ‘The sign of the coefficient on this variable is the opposite of that for the Gini coefficient.’
    • ‘Moreover, as just mentioned, the rate of adaptation negatively correlates with the sign of epistasis.’


  • 1[with object] Write one's name on (a letter, card, document, etc.) to identify oneself as the writer or sender.

    ‘the card was signed by the whole class’
    • ‘The judge rejected pleas by more than 4,000 supporters who had signed petitions or written letters on Haddad's behalf.’
    • ‘But individual letters are more important than signing a petition, so get writing!’
    • ‘The singer was one of 52 Irish celebrities who designed and signed their own playing card for the charity - raising funds in their home country.’
    • ‘He ‘was not concentrating’ when he signed a letter one of his staff had written in reply, which ignored most of her complaints.’
    • ‘The council received 21 letters and a petition signed by 122 residents opposing the plan.’
    • ‘An original Copy of the limited-edition book, of which only 1,500 were printed and signed by Wood, is also on display.’
    • ‘He had signed the letter with a heart and then written his name in huge letters across the bottom.’
    • ‘I signed the letter with my full name, address, phone number and account number.’
    • ‘The rest of the detainees wrote and signed a letter that they had witnessed the abuse, and went on a hunger strike.’
    • ‘At one point, the restaurant was giving all people celebrating birthdays a card, signed by the staff, that was also a gift certificate.’
    • ‘They don't hesitate to sign petitions, write letters or otherwise share their opinions.’
    • ‘Whether sent via e-mail or snail mail, my letters are always signed with the simple title ‘Viewer’ beneath my name.’
    • ‘All the cards were made and signed by the pupils.’
    • ‘He wrote back within the week and signed the letter which her father Peter, 53, is going to frame for her.’
    • ‘With the dossier we sent to the FSA was a letter signed by me.’
    • ‘Outraged by the Government's threat to their sub post offices, people have signed petitions and written letters urging ministers to think again.’
    • ‘We would like to thank the 7,500 people who sent objection letters or signed the petition.’
    • ‘On her birthday, he sent her a card that was signed by everyone in his unit.’
    • ‘Parents will be asked to sign the letter before sending it to council officials and public representatives.’
    • ‘Truly, every baseball fan should join in, sign a card, send a letter or bake some cookies.’
    write, inscribe, pen, pencil, scribble, scrawl, dash off, put, add
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Authorize (a document or other written or printed material) by attaching a signature.
      ‘the two countries signed a non-aggression treaty’
      • ‘In fact, only one of the many workers fired for independent union activity has been rehired, and not a single contract has been signed with an independent union.’
      • ‘Work on restoring the building will start early next year after contracts have been signed and detailed plans have been drawn-up.’
      • ‘Once this document is signed - which is expected imminently - it's obviously too late to change anything.’
      • ‘In 1997, the U.S. and 65 other countries signed the Chemical Weapons Convention.’
      • ‘The document is signed by two witnesses, and has the standing of a legally binding agreement.’
      • ‘Important markets such as the US, Japan and south Korea have not signed the Patents Co-operation Treaty that was designed to harmonise patent rules.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, my prospective employers needed a copy of my degree before they could sign such a contract.’
      • ‘I slid over a crisp dollar bill as my initial deposit, and signed the papers.’
      • ‘Yesterday the Minister for the Environment signed the Packaging Accord.’
      • ‘In May 1972, the United States and the Soviet Union signed the SALT I Agreement.’
      • ‘A ceasefire signed in February 2002 remains in place but talks have been stalled since this April.’
      • ‘Couples sign the partnership document in the presence of two witnesses and a Civil Partnership Registrar.’
      • ‘Adnan said the defence team had visited Amrozi in jail today and he signed a document authorising them to appeal the conviction and sentence.’
      • ‘A second possible, but again unusual, situation is where a loan document is signed but requires further agreement on particular matters.’
      • ‘Britain in particular would be far better off signing a free-trade agreement with the USA.’
      • ‘That was how he looked when she went down to the mortuary to identify his body and sign the necessary documents.’
      • ‘The transfer was valid at the time the document was signed and this has no bearing on the matters at hand.’
      • ‘Unsurprisingly, we are also selling to the Gaddafi government in Libya, another nation which has not signed the Chemical Weapons Convention.’
      • ‘A user's card then contains their private key and a certificate, signed by the card issuer, to confirm their public key value.’
      • ‘When the Soviet Union signed the SALT I Treaty, it chose to build its ABM sites around Moscow and Leningrad.’
      endorse, validate, certify, authenticate, authorize, sanction, legalize, put into effect, enact
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Write (one's name) for purposes of identification or authorization.
      ‘she signed her name in the book’
      [with object and complement] ‘she signed herself Imogen’
      [no object] ‘he signed on the dotted line’
      • ‘He wrote a brief message to her and signed his name in flowing but not too neat script that he obviously hadn't spent time perfecting.’
      • ‘Deciding to keep it simple he wrote two quick lines then signed his name.’
      • ‘When you are happy with it, write it down at least twenty times and sign your name to it each time.’
      • ‘‘These homeless are bums, nothing but leeches on society,’ wrote a guy who signed himself Trav.’
      • ‘She never learned to write and could only sign her name with a cross.’
      • ‘More than 200 people have already signed their names and written messages of support since the book opened.’
      • ‘He signed himself Dave, which may or may not be his real name.’
      • ‘They will then be on hand to meet fans, sign autographs and will perform a few hits to entertain the audience.’
      • ‘They have signed all the autographs, laughed and joked among themselves and smiled upon all who smiled.’
      • ‘Accepting every word, Ford authorized Bennett to sign his name to the statement.’
      • ‘Each one wrote a sentence or two and then signed his name.’
      • ‘She even autographed it, signing George's name as a bonus.’
      • ‘On the back of the card the instructor wrote, ‘D. talks too much,’ and signed his name.’
      • ‘Personally, I can't remember the last time I wrote in cursive other than signing my name.’
      • ‘Amos was able to identify the photo of a man whose first name was signed Mohamed, but he could not make out the last name, he said.’
      • ‘He writes it down, signs his name, and hands the paper to a clerk.’
      • ‘The name changed to Dürer but Albrecht Dürer senior always signed himself Türer rather than Dürer.’
      • ‘I'd like to thank the authors who signed their names to the very eloquent letter.’
      • ‘Please show your support by signing your name on the sheet provided.’
      • ‘It eventually worked and I carefully signed my clearest signature for years before having it held up to the light again.’
      autograph, endorse, witness, initial, put one's mark on, countersign, re-sign
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3Engage (someone, typically a sports player or a musician) to work for one by signing a contract with them.
      ‘the manager plans to sign a new goalkeeper’
      • ‘Not since the early 1980s, when they reached two European Cup finals and signed European Player of the Year Keegan, has there been such expectation.’
      • ‘Bethlehem Records signed her in 1957 and two years later, her heartbreaking version of Gershwin's hit sold over a million records.’
      • ‘They spent a year in Oakland trying to get signed to a record label.’
      • ‘He will need to find cover for the start of next season, be it in renewing a contract or signing a new player.’
      • ‘Two years ago, 860 foreign-born players were signed to professional contracts by major league clubs.’
      • ‘Everyone wishes they could have signed their own Velvet Underground; that's the history of the interesting side of rock and roll.’
      • ‘He is looking for more offense and has indicated he wants to sign a major free agent.’
      • ‘Will the Hearts manager stay if he has no control over signing new players?’
      • ‘Harper is signed through next season, but he might call it quits after this season, even if he helps the Lakers to a championship.’
      • ‘According to his adviser there are many other clubs interested in signing the former Gremio player.’
      • ‘The team signed former Bill Jonathan Linton to be the top backup to George.’
      • ‘Colin Todd may ditch plans to sign a left-sided player if he can land two centre forwards.’
      • ‘Other managements across Europe have continued to sign players who are out of contract or who have been released by their clubs.’
      • ‘The Hawks were serious about signing Curry - they had jerseys and specially edited videos made for a two-day visit to Atlanta.’
      • ‘Over the past three or four months I signed the best players at Barnet on new two year contracts and they are beyond Brentford's price range.’
      • ‘With sadness, Hudson told Gazza that he wasn't going to be right for the club and signed the American player Ernie Stewart instead.’
      • ‘The players are signed to long term contracts, and if US interests want the player, they have to pay his team for his services.’
      • ‘The Aberdeen manager is constantly in the papers talking about signing players who are contracted to other clubs.’
      • ‘These clubs often wait for a contract to expire before signing a player, in order to eliminate any transfer fee involved.’
      • ‘Also, we signed the band in the 80s, so we had a variety of successes.’
      recruit, hire, engage, employ, take on, appoint, take into one's employ, take into employment, contract, put on the payroll, sign, enrol, enlist
      take into service, take into one's service
      recruit, hire, engage, employ, take on, appoint, take into one's employ, take into employment, contract, put on the payroll, sign on, sign up, enrol, enlist
      View synonyms
    4. 1.4[no object]Commit oneself to work by signing a contract.
      ‘a new striker has signed for Blackburn’
      • ‘Those that have already signed are defenders Mark Hotte, Steve Baker and Paul Shepherd, with Shaun Rennison poised to join them.’
      • ‘Flushed with the success of the film, he has just signed to direct the third Harry Potter movie.’
      • ‘The band has signed to Primary Voltage Records, who will put out their LP later this year.’
      • ‘He also urged greater price transparency so that customers are better informed when deciding to sign with a supplier.’
      • ‘I just spoke with one of my old high school friends who informed me he had just signed with the 2004 Trek West Coast Factory Team.’
      • ‘The move, coming shortly after she signed to Warners, signalled the opening of a whole new chapter in her life.’
      • ‘Perhaps the biggest key to his success is not signing to a major label.’
      • ‘"We just signed to a new label called Anubis, " explains DJ / producer Nabi.’
      • ‘Holland moved to the bench when Mayberry signed as a free agent in the off season.’
      • ‘She has the plain Jane Mallu looks and has signed with two big directors and top heroes.’
      • ‘Rahman's promoter Cedric Kushner files lawsuits in all directions when the fighter makes attempts to sign with Don King.’
      • ‘Later I signed with director Vinayan for Satyam opposite Pritviraj.’
      • ‘I will be visiting Carla shortly to make sure her son signs for Bessbrook United.’
  • 2[no object] Use gestures to convey information or instructions.

    [with infinitive] ‘she signed to her husband to leave the room’
    • ‘Jess shook her head and signed to Dani, gesturing to Courtney and back to Bran.’
    • ‘He signed at her, indicating the direction they were walking in with a vague point of his index finger.’
    gesture, signal, give a sign to, indicate, direct, motion, gesticulate
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1Communicate in sign language.
      ‘she was learning to sign’
      • ‘Mr Maxwell, whose speciality is French and English starters, can lip read quite well but can only speak a few words, so he relies on signing to communicate.’
      • ‘She recently completed a Level One exam in sign-language, and signed to the audience what it means for her to be chosen to enter this competition.’
      • ‘After ripping a steel sink from its moorings, the ape - famous for using sign language - signed to claim that her tiny pet kitten had done the damage’
    2. 2.2[with object]Express or perform (something) in sign language.
      ‘the Deaf Association Choir signed the hymns’
      ‘the theatre routinely puts on signed performances’
      • ‘Koko is famous for knowing sign language, and she was able to sign to her handlers in California that she had a toothache.’
      • ‘He has also learnt sign language and can now sign 30 words and speak them clearly.’
      • ‘The woman doing sign language during the broadcast instead signed to viewers the election was a fraud.’
  • 3[with object] Indicate with signposts or other markers.

    ‘the footpath is signed by the gate’
    • ‘At bottom of hill turn left to pass through farm buildings and a gate signed Ebor Way.’
    • ‘As the road bends sharply to the right, pass through the gate on the left signed Public Bridleway Route Diverted.’
    • ‘Turn right along here, just a few metres before almost immediately turning sharp right along the signed footpath by a farm gate.’
  • 4archaic [with object] Mark or consecrate with the sign of the cross.

    ‘he signed himself with the cross’
    • ‘He ran up to the front of the church demanding to be signed with the cross.’


  • sign of the cross

    • A Christian sign made in blessing or prayer by tracing a cross from the forehead to the chest and to each shoulder, or in the air.

      • ‘He frantically made the sign of the cross over his chest.’
      • ‘The first in line made the sign of the cross against his chest before dropping his ballot into a clear plastic container.’
      • ‘As if to authenticate the gesture, even non-Roman Catholic players have been known to finish their touchdown prayers with the sign of the cross.’
      • ‘The simple version of the rosy cross is still used today in the church as the sign of the cross, done before and after all prayers and as a general blessing/banishing.’
      • ‘For example, Muslims whisper Allah's name in the baby's ear, and Christians make the sign of the cross in water on his or her forehead.’
      • ‘John Paul II last made an appearance on Sunday, waving to about 300 hymn-singing pilgrims below and making the sign of the cross.’
      • ‘Tony knelt down and prayed making the sign of the cross, while Jisty's parents said their own prayers.’
      • ‘‘Oh no… Lord, grant him mercy,’ Katherine said, making the sign of the cross on her chest.’
      • ‘A yellow, smoky light filtered through as the priest chanted the opening prayers and made the sign of the cross.’
      • ‘‘In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost’, he said raising his hand to make the sign of the cross as the congregation knelt in prayer.’
  • sign of the times

    • Something judged to indicate the nature of a particular period, typically something undesirable.

      ‘the theft was a sign of the times’
      • ‘In a sign of the times, the fast food giant is getting rid of the extra-large portions that had become one of its signatures.’
      • ‘A few weeks ago, in another sign of the times, the chief judge of the Raboteau trial was attacked and severely beaten.’
      • ‘It's a sad sign of the times but one that is increasingly accepted to provide reassurance: a necessary inconvenience - no more, no less.’
      • ‘It is, perhaps, a sign of the times that neither of them was born in Yorkshire, but the pair of them were just as proud to receive their caps as any native would have been.’
      • ‘It is extremely rare that something like this should happen, but it is a sign of the times, sadly.’
      • ‘It is a sign of the times, I suppose, that the news has been greeted with relatively muted response.’
      • ‘It's a shame there aren't a few more libertarian voices amongst the newcomers - but I supposed that's just a sign of the times.’
      • ‘Is all this just one other sign of the times: the gradual dumbing down of British society?’
      • ‘Sadly it's probably a sign of the times that this time around it's the reporter and not the subject of his report that's the centre of all the attention.’
      • ‘I suppose it's a sign of the times that their spoofs are more sensible than their genuine stuff.’
  • signed, sealed, and delivered (or signed and sealed)

    • Formally and officially agreed and in effect.

      ‘the government doesn't want us to know about their deal until it's all signed, sealed, and delivered’
      • ‘I know I won't do anything next time until everything is signed and sealed.’
      • ‘I just hope it is not a case of prolonging the agony and I won't believe everything is okay until a deal is signed and sealed and I'm reading it in the paper.’
      • ‘Nothing seems to be conclusively signed and sealed; pessimism overwhelms most of the NGOs as well as various justice and peace organisations.’
      • ‘There's nothing signed and sealed yet, there's still a lot of rugby to play to make the play-offs.’
      • ‘He said: ‘We could have delayed the announcement until all the contracts were signed and sealed, but this is about being open and honest.’’
      • ‘We will fight on and on and only stop once the final contract is signed and sealed.’
      • ‘We had hoped it all would be signed, sealed, and delivered by now.’
      • ‘Dolan said: ‘We are hopeful the deal will be completed by the end of today but I do not want to say who it is until everything is signed and sealed.’’
      • ‘We are currently looking at the demolition tenders and we believe a deal will be signed and sealed within two months.’
      • ‘Now, in this province, not only can you no longer trust a handshake deal, you can't even trust a signed and sealed legal document with all the fine print carefully scrutinized.’
      authorized, accredited, approved, validated, authenticated, authentic, certified, endorsed, documented, sanctioned, licensed, formal, recognized, authoritative, accepted, verified, legitimate, legal, lawful, valid, bona fide, proper, true, ex cathedra, signed, sealed, and delivered, signed and sealed
      View synonyms

Phrasal Verbs

  • sign something away/over

    • Officially relinquish rights or property by signing a deed.

      ‘I have no intention of signing away my inheritance’
      • ‘The court heard that both dogs were signed over to the RSPCA, restored to good health and found new homes.’
      • ‘So many of our powers have been signed away by successive governments that we can now make only 30 per cent of our own laws.’
      • ‘One woman in her 80s was persuaded to sign her home over to them.’
      • ‘Trouble is, we believed them and signed the whole thing over.’
      • ‘It claims there was pressure on locals to sign their property over to oil executives.’
      • ‘In single-parent families or families where both parents are at sea, the children are signed over to a guardian.’
      • ‘He would give her access to all his bank accounts and sign the deed over to her.’
      • ‘If a friend wins the lottery, the only way I'm going to be excited is if they sign the cheque over to me.’
      • ‘However, once I signed the papers as a director I signed away any chance of upholding tenants' rights as these papers banned me from representing the tenants.’
      • ‘Under the proposal, the Ks will be signed over to the trust for the nominal £1 fee.’
      relinquish, renounce, waive, give up, abandon, reject, surrender, yield, cede, hand over, turn over, do without, dispense with, put aside, set aside, abdicate, abjure, sacrifice, refuse, turn down, spurn
      transfer, turn over, make over, hand over, hand on, give, hand down, leave, bequeath, bestow, pass on, devolve, transmit, cede, deliver, assign, consign, convey, entrust
      View synonyms
  • sign for

    • Sign a receipt to confirm that one has received (something delivered)

      ‘someone must sign for the registered letter when we deliver it’
      • ‘My mum had to sign for them when they were delivered.’
      • ‘Everything else either has to be collected or a delivery time arranged for when you are at home to sign for the goods.’
      • ‘We rang City Link and asked them where the parcel was, they said it had been delivered to our address and was signed for by Jackson.’
      • ‘The customer electronically signs for the call and confirmation goes to accounts for billing.’
  • sign in (or out)

    • Sign a register on arrival (or departure), typically in a hotel.

      ‘I signed in and took the lift to my room’
      ‘all visitors must sign out when leaving’
      • ‘With a goodbye both Emma and Danny got out of the car and signed in to the hotel.’
      • ‘I suppose that if you didn't sign in on the council register you don't exist!’
      • ‘Dana has just signed in., MSN informed her with a short, annoying sound effect.’
      • ‘The clubhouse no longer has the routine where you must sign in if you are not a club member as the bar is leased out.’
      • ‘They carry their own personal ID badges and all visitors must sign in and out of the building.’
  • sign someone in (or out)

    • Record someone's arrival (or departure) in a register.

      ‘he's signed you in and is waiting for you’
      ‘he spent five days in hospital before signing himself out’
      • ‘The gig is free and doors open at 8.30 pm, but remember you need a Union member to sign you in.’
      • ‘Woody signed me in and we made our way back to the Bistro where the group was forming up.’
      • ‘I walked to the desk, slid on my work apron and signed myself in.’
      • ‘He signed himself out of the hospital and went to Arcadia for an examination from his primary physician, who sent him home.’
      • ‘Tickets are $20, but you do need a member to sign you in.’
      • ‘They are welcome to use every part of the club as long as they are signed in.’
      • ‘She went into the clock check-in and signed herself in.’
      • ‘The chief fire officer signed him in as a firemen, when he arrived at the station.’
      • ‘One of them, Ms. Jill, who always makes mommies and daddies sign kids out, said to us ‘good morning’ and she waved.’
      • ‘I just hope my papa is correct in his assumption that if he signs me in as a guest it won't be a problem…’
  • sign off

    • 1Conclude a letter, broadcast, or other message.

      ‘he signed off with a few words of advice’
      • ‘It was their farewell message as they signed off.’
      • ‘It has been my honor to serve you this year, but before I sign off, I have one more message to share with you.’
      • ‘‘Our customers end up saving more and getting a lot more than yours do,’ said the letter before signing off as ‘Your friends at Wanadoo’.’
      • ‘She ended her message by saying: ‘Now I need to sign off or I will be cycling home in the dark with no lights!’’
      • ‘When posting a message, remember to sign off with your name, followed by CPA, Esq. or both, public practice or industry and your city.’
      • ‘I did a broadcast in which I said, I'm signing off now because there's a censor standing there and I'm not supposed to say something and I'd rather say nothing.’
      • ‘The letter signs off with ‘I have no doubt we can look forward to your continued cooperation and support’.’
      • ‘I will sign off now with a honest, true and heartfelt message from Britain.’
      • ‘At the end of every message that you post, you can sign off by mentioning your name and the URL of your web site.’
      • ‘They were signing off for the season at the end of the broadcast last night.’
      1. 1.1Conclude an activity.
        ‘he signed off from school athletics with a double in the shot’
        • ‘He had initially envisaged signing off more than two decades of international competition when having his fourth and final crack at the World Masters.’
        • ‘Meanwhile, good luck to Linda who signed off from AM this morning and heads to London with her partner.’
        • ‘He signed off from the Army in October 1991 and is due to leave in October 1992.’
        • ‘In 1891/92 he signed off from big cricket with the wicket of WG Grace in a game with Lord Sheffield's team.’
        • ‘On February 2nd, 1992, the Judge signs off his adjudication of the five year case.’
      2. 1.2Sign to record that one is leaving work for the day.
        ‘a colleague saw me home and signed off for me’
      3. 1.3Indicate by a conventional bid that one is seeking to end the bidding.
    • 2Register to stop receiving unemployment benefit after finding work.

      • ‘He added: ‘I would be concerned if individual soldiers are being pressurised into signing off because it's felt that they are a burden and the powers that be want them off the books.’’
      • ‘He was unable to find a place on the scheme, despite having no job, because he had been encouraged to sign off as unemployed some years earlier.’
  • sign someone off

    • Record that someone is entitled to miss work, typically because of illness.

      ‘she had seen her doctor and been signed off for a month’
      • ‘In the first place you don't necessarily need a doctor to sign you off.’
      • ‘When it first happened I was so upset, I couldn't go to work and I was signed off.’
      • ‘I just can't seem to get going on anything so my Doctor, who showed some genuine interest this time, has signed me off for a month.’
      • ‘She later sought medical help for pain in her right arm and her doctor signed her off sick for 12 months.’
      • ‘Insiders claimed staff were guilty of ‘time theft’ with workers going home early and asking colleagues to sign them off.’
      • ‘He published statistics earlier this year saying that 80% of illnesses in the civil service were self-certified - in other words they had not been signed off by a doctor.’
      • ‘They inserted a metal plate and signed him off from his job as a computer salesman for up to three weeks.’
      • ‘Like 15 and 16-year-olds across East Lancashire they were signed off on exam leave at the end of last week.’
      • ‘McGhee said: ‘We're all hopeful the doctor will sign Timmy off.’’
      • ‘His doctor soon signed him off work with severe stress and high blood pressure.’
  • sign off on

    • Give one's approval to.

      ‘it was hard to get celebrities to sign off on those issues’
      • ‘Before anything is signed off on at least two people check the calculation before it finally goes to the Director of Services for approval.’
      • ‘After JEDC approval, City Council signed off on the request in November 2000.’
      • ‘Davis signed off on comically generous pensions for government workers.’
      • ‘In Houston we have four specific projects that he and I both signed off on.’
      • ‘According to Steinberg, different editors asked about the story before it ran to make sure its treatment had been signed off on.’
      • ‘In a stunning new development, attorneys for both sides reached a deal that the president himself signed off on.’
      • ‘Whether there were any sweetheart contracts he might have signed off on, as some reports suggest, remains to be seen.’
      • ‘Others were in production and had been finished, but not signed off on by the EP, who constantly re-cut segments.’
      • ‘So this is not a plan that has been signed off on by the president.’
      • ‘Again, this should be agreed to and signed off on by the client.’
  • sign on

    • 1Commit oneself to employment, membership of a society, or some other undertaking.

      ‘I'll sign on with a nursing agency’
      • ‘The deal also marks the first new U.S.-based sponsor to sign on with the league in more than a year.’
      • ‘A contract actor generally signs on for three years and is a major part of the core storylines.’
      • ‘I quickly realized that I made the biggest mistake of my life letting Tina sign on with a model agency.’
      • ‘In other words, like Jackson, Horry is smart enough to always sign on with the best team.’
      • ‘The office allows people to sign on as members of the movement, make proposals, and seek help and answers.’
      • ‘Some companies will use other company's results in order to get you to sign on with them.’
      • ‘Like Gutierrez, he had signed on with a US recruiting firm to guard US installations.’
      • ‘Around that time, an intriguing start-up invited me to sign on as employee number five.’
      • ‘The popularity of the club is growing with a number of new recruits signing on to learn the ropes.’
      • ‘Thousands of people signed on as contract workers, largely due to increased earning power.’
      enlist, take a job, sign, join the forces, join the services, enrol, register, volunteer, put one's name down, become a member
      take service, go into service
      take the king's shilling, take the queen's shilling
      View synonyms
    • 2Register as unemployed.

      • ‘It was always a struggle, and sometimes I had to sign on for unemployment benefit.’
      • ‘Campaigners have claimed victory in their battle to stop Witham's unemployed having to travel to other towns to sign on.’
      • ‘New jobless figures showing a rise in the number of people signing on are being viewed with alarm by politicians and employers alike.’
      • ‘The number of people signing on for unemployment benefits increased slightly in August, most due to short term claims.’
      • ‘There was good news for job hunters across the county with all Kerry centres registering a drop in the numbers signing on in April.’
      • ‘At the time, I was eking out a precarious living: signing on as unemployed and writing the occasional dance review for The Scotsman.’
      • ‘Figures on the live register in March this year said that 828 were signing on in the Portarlington area.’
      • ‘This period was also financially trying - Jennifer even found herself signing on to receive unemployment benefit.’
      • ‘It is calculated that over 6,000 more people have signed on to the live unemployment register in the past year.’
      • ‘The unemployment figures showed fewer Scots signing on, yet there seemed to be no signs of increasing prosperity in our most depressed estates.’
  • sign someone on

    • Take someone into one's employment.

      ‘the manager signed on new players’
      • ‘Eventually moving to New York, she was signed on to the S-Curve label at only fourteen years old.’
      • ‘The claim to fame was not easy, admits Chowtha, who says it took more than six years for anyone in the industry to sign him on.’
      • ‘Meena recommended her to three top-notch producer-directors and Manisha was signed on by all three in one day!’
      • ‘The club have been impressed by Ciaran's net-minding skills and have signed him on for the top spot again in 2003.’
      • ‘All it took was one producer to sign her on, give her a ‘look’ and give her a career.’
      • ‘He came down and had a training session and we signed him on.’
      • ‘If headhunters from the English county season have been watching the young Baroda lad, they must be queueing up to sign him on.’
      • ‘His performances attracted the attention of City manager Tom Mitchell, who signed him on.’
      • ‘He expressed hope that Mbesuma would be signed on by another club in Europe because he was still marketable.’
      • ‘The hockey player has been signed on by the Government of Nunavut - all in aid of a worthy public cause.’
      recruit, hire, engage, employ, take on, appoint, take into one's employ, take into employment, contract, put on the payroll, sign, enrol, enlist
      take into service, take into one's service
      View synonyms
  • sign something out

    • Sign to indicate that one has borrowed or hired something.

      ‘I signed out the keys’
      • ‘There is no need to wonder whether the book is signed out.’
      • ‘I was pretty sure it was his name, so he could sign the book out, because he left the library center with it.’
      • ‘They followed the boys from the room, briefly stopping to sign the costumes out in their names.’
      • ‘The loan system is comparable to that of video rentals in that regardless of the time a bike is signed out, it is due back by 11p.m. on the following day.’
      • ‘I did just that, and the aircraft was signed out to another pilot minutes later.’
      • ‘Should a commander decide to conduct testing, those members of the unit trained in use of the equipment would sign it out and return it at the conclusion of testing.’
      • ‘You can simply help yourself to tanks, sign them out, and go diving.’
      • ‘With a small number of handheld units, you could have a whole group of officers who can just sign them out and take them where they need them.’
      • ‘I signed them out at the duty desk and I was responsible for bringing them back.’
      • ‘Tell them to sign the equipment out to 3JPE.’
  • sign up

    • 1Commit oneself to a period of employment, education, or in the armed forces.

      ‘he signed up for a ten-week course’
      • ‘Instead of doing sporty things, I signed up for a class on willow weaving.’
      • ‘Should people be allowed to not do part of the jobs that they signed up for because of moral objections?’
      • ‘When he signed up for the army it was tantamount to an admission that reality had intruded on his dream.’
      • ‘Unhappy at home, and with no money to go to college, he had signed up for four years in the US Air Force.’
      • ‘We found this to be an excellent tennis program when our entire family signed up for lessons one year.’
      • ‘A roughly equal number of boys and girls signed up for last night's course at Bradford Youth Centre.’
      • ‘To what exactly did they think they were committing themselves when they signed up for the job?’
      • ‘She signed up for four movies under prestigious banners, even before a single release!’
      • ‘A novice in the ways of the waves, I did the sensible thing and signed up for a surf lesson with the Winter brothers.’
      • ‘This is why I've signed up for the Open University degree in Environmental Science.’
      1. 1.1Conclude a business deal.
        ‘the firm has signed up with a new Russian company’
        • ‘What it doesn't have is a religious sect of expensively-suited consultants who could descend on an IT operation and sign it up to lucrative long-term facilities deals.’
        • ‘There is still some way to go before the deal is signed up and even then it may take some time for any money to be released.’
        • ‘ABL has been operating the centre on behalf of the Council for seven years since it opened but will go it alone as soon as the deal is signed up.’
        • ‘However, those visiting the slopes of Bulgaria will not be covered by the card, as that country is not signed up to the free treatment deal.’
  • sign someone up

    • Formally engage someone in employment.

      ‘the company is signing up people to write programs’
      • ‘Former aerospace man Stuart Roby has been signed up to streamline manufacturing processes in the North-west.’
      • ‘The Bolton TV presenter has been signed up by Radio 1 DJ, becoming the station's third presenter from the town.’
      • ‘In 2003, Walker was signed up by the sportswear manufacturer despite being just three-and-a-half.’
      • ‘If Romanov is serious, he should let Robertson identify the players he wants to keep at the club and sign them up on new contracts.’
      • ‘The TV veteran and former boxing champion has been signed up as a columnist by the Aberdeen Evening Express.’
      • ‘Meanwhile she refused to confirm that the actress has been signed up to promote her Ultimo underwear.’
      • ‘Earlier this year Lipman was signed up to promote her erstwhile employer's arch-rival, the Carphone Warehouse.’
      • ‘I'll definitely be getting a place in the Hamptons when Calvin Klein finally signs me up for a worldwide marketing campaign.’
      • ‘They have worked hard in other areas, with suggestions that men of this calibre of might be signed up as support staff for the new coach.’
      • ‘The 15-year-old from Worsley has been signed up for a major role in a comedy drama series about teenagers, called The A to Z of Everything.’


Middle English: from Old French signe (noun), signer (verb), from Latin signum mark, token.