Main definitions of signal in English

: signal1signal2

signal1

nounPlural signals

  • 1A gesture, action, or sound that is used to convey information or instructions, typically by prearrangement between the parties concerned.

    ‘the firing of the gun was the signal for a chain of beacons to be lit’
    with infinitive ‘the policeman raised his hand as a signal to stop’
    • ‘Anna raised her hand in a signal for Justine to stop.’
    • ‘Jumping onto a table, Crush raised her hands in the air as a signal for her friends to stop they were doing; she watched as they obliged, halting their food war.’
    • ‘This instruction was a sound signal by a pager, randomly activated by the experimenter via the telephone.’
    • ‘Noor, in typical logical mode, made a soft hissing noise with her teeth, the signal for any motion to halt gradually but fast.’
    • ‘So we waited for either John our floor warden to let us know what we should do, or for an evacuation signal to sound.’
    • ‘Valeo says it can customize the system to notify the driver in other ways, perhaps by sound or a signal on the instrument panel.’
    • ‘A signal was sounded in Post Offices across the country and customers were asked to join staff in remembering the dead and injured.’
    • ‘This gesture was a signal to his kids that he loved them.’
    • ‘Fire alarm signals must be distinctive in sound from other signals.’
    • ‘The Prince halted and held up his arm in a signal for the others to stop.’
    • ‘She made a signal for him to stop as Mary kept on talking.’
    • ‘Rather than rely on conversation, develop hand signals and subtle sounds to communicate with hunting partners while walking or rattling in the woods.’
    • ‘She didn't fall too badly and merely got rather wetter than originally planned, but this was the signal for our party to exit the fountain and attempt to dry off.’
    • ‘His first shot would be the signal for the rest of his team to open fire.’
    • ‘Tired, grumpy, she waved her hand as a signal for me to come in.’
    • ‘Casey's head snapped around and she grabbed Alex, making the signal for ‘stop and listen’ with her free hand.’
    • ‘When the emergency is over and the all-clear signal is sounded, remember that outside air is still contaminated.’
    • ‘With hand signals, she gestured for the rest of the team to follow her into the next hallway, which would lead to the first floor staircase.’
    • ‘Most people probably regard smiling, frowning and other such external signals of emotion as gestures that give expression to internal feelings, which come first.’
    • ‘Several days later, spotting the crow's nest of the ship over the headland of Cape Evans, they lit a fire as a signal for the ship to steam back and pick them up.’
    gesture, sign, wave, gesticulation, cue, prompt, indicator, indication, communication, message
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 An indication of a situation.
      ‘the markets are waiting for a clear signal about the direction of policy’
      • ‘The earlier signals which hinted at the emergence of fiscal prudence, quickly faded out.’
      • ‘Pools of all sizes tested gave positive signals indicating that all the pool sizes are amenable for the PCR assay.’
      • ‘About 20 minutes later mission control erupted in cheers, hugs and tears when a signal from the craft indicated it was still functioning.’
      • ‘But if his signals indicate romance is a no-go, change the channel on your emotions by hanging out more often with other friends.’
      • ‘Trouble signals are indicated when a detector becomes too ‘dirty’ to properly function.’
      • ‘We have detected signals indicative of hydrothermal activity in several areas, including both basins.’
      • ‘Misreading signals can be disastrous in these situations.’
      • ‘When the stressful situation ends, hormonal signals switch off the stress response and the body returns to normal.’
      • ‘That is a strong signal of the positive move of the SARS situation.’
      • ‘Yet that kind of balanced lending is something which bankers who operate without market signals have yet to show much finesse for without clear direction from above.’
      • ‘A signal is then produced indicating that the structure is complete and the scaffolding protein detaches to be used again in making other virus tails.’
      • ‘This indicates the need for a clear signal to be given early in the New Year that rates are coming down.’
      • ‘Controllers had seen a signal indicating a possible problem with the capsule's heat shield, so I was advised to keep the retrorocket pack attached to hold the heat shield in place.’
      • ‘The data on rising earnings comes amid conflicting signals about the job situation for technology professionals in the United States.’
      • ‘The figures provided positive signals on the state of the economy, with tax receipts from wages, consumer spending and stamp duty all ahead.’
      • ‘Education Leeds assistant chief executive Roland Absalom said it was a clear signal that the situation was improving.’
      • ‘One possible benefit of mate choice occurs if females can use male courtship signals as an honest indicator of male nutritional contributions at mating, nuptial gifts.’
      • ‘Stress signals indicated that he needed to create a more balanced life, to keep divorce and a heart attack at bay.’
      • ‘That may indicate that incoming pain signals are being delivered by the spinal cord in a similar way for different people, but once they arrive in the brain they are handled differently.’
      • ‘It's too early to predict what might happen in the case of nanotechnology, but early signals indicate Congress is eager to tie strings to funding.’
      indication, sign, symptom, hint, pointer, suggestion, intimation, clue, manifestation, demonstration
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 An event or statement that provides the impulse for an occurrence.
      ‘the champion's announcement that he was retiring was the signal for scores of journalists to gather at his last match’
      • ‘A certain amount of inflation is needed anyway to provide market signals to increase production and investment.’
      • ‘For patients, monitoring may provide a signal for action or simply provide motivation to adhere to treatment.’
      • ‘In the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, the X: A ratio serves as the primary signal for somatic sex determination.’
      • ‘When Sheffield saw a player dismissed for two yellow card offences it was the signal for Vale to press forward again.’
      • ‘Gerard Rice made it 2-1 for Newcastle midway through the second half, a signal for the Seasiders to turn up the pressure.’
      • ‘The oxidative stress caused by ozone may serve as the initial signal for programmed cell death and a hypersensitive response.’
      • ‘A drop in the intracellular concentration of glutamine provides a signal for the activation of transcription of nitrogen-regulated genes.’
      • ‘Their success has been a signal for other Aboriginal communities to follow suit.’
      • ‘However, we have noticed that there is a temporal increase in these mutations which should serve us a warning signal for prescribing the SP treatment.’
      • ‘It has been hypothesized that the products of two different sex alleles may form an active heterodimer that serves as an unambiguous signal for sex determination.’
      cue, prompt, occasion, green light, incentive, impetus, impulse, stimulus
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3Bridge A prearranged convention of bidding or play intended to convey information to one's partner.
      • ‘Therefore it is normal for the first two players to use the low bids as signals.’
      • ‘When leading to a trick, certain remarks or signals are allowed.’
      • ‘When playing against a trump contract this can be achieved by a simple system of discard signals.’
      • ‘Make an agreement with your partner to look for the signal after each time that the cards are swept away.’
      • ‘Naturally they will try to do this while the opponents are not looking, but as the signals do not need to be true, you can also try to confuse the opponents by passing misleading signals, at the risk of confusing your partner as well.’
  • 2An electrical impulse or radio wave transmitted or received.

    ‘equipment for receiving TV signals’
    • ‘It served as a transmission station to send and receive radio signals from Europe, South America and The United States.’
    • ‘Cochlear implants transmit electrical signals from the inner ear to the brain, which interprets them as sound.’
    • ‘Each antenna, starting at a different moment, sends out its own signals on regular radio waves.’
    • ‘Marconi was the first to use electromagnetic waves to transmit signals 101 years ago.’
    • ‘These tags transmit and receive radio signals to and from nearby scanners.’
    • ‘These chips feature an antenna to transmit and receive radio signals.’
    • ‘These units may be placed in either homes or businesses to receive and transmit a wireless broadband signal.’
    • ‘These electrical signals send electrical impulses across the skin to an implanted receiver/stimulator in the shoulder to the electrode leads in the arm and hand.’
    • ‘The dishes send and receive signals off an orbiting network relay, which transmits messages to and from a central data center.’
    • ‘Underlying every thought and bodily motion are nerve and muscle cells sending or receiving electrical signals.’
    • ‘A fit or seizure happens when there is a brief change or break in the way cells normally send and receive these electrical signals.’
    • ‘In the past, the electrodes transmitted the electrical signal by wires to a receiver and amplifier, and the results were recorded on a continuous roll of paper.’
    • ‘The pump activated once it received the electrical signal.’
    • ‘The implants receive electrical signals from a camera positioned outside the body.’
    • ‘Each cell has a base station that transmits and receives signals over just a small fraction of the frequencies to which the network operator has access.’
    • ‘The development of the electromagnet about 1837 provided the American Samuel F. B. Morse with a way to transmit and receive electric signals.’
    • ‘Speech and other sounds are sent to the speech processor where they are converted into electrical signals and sent to the transmitting coil.’
    • ‘We are using radio wave signals, so we need to be high up to have a clear view - radio waves lose about 60 per cent of their power when they hit a wall.’
    • ‘Because the signal is transmitted over radio waves, others can listen in to any transmissions, so the authentication mechanisms are also visible.’
    • ‘The problem is that forks in the electrical grid reflect broadband signals and thereby degrade transmission.’
  • 3An apparatus on a railway, typically a coloured light or a semaphore, giving indications to train drivers of whether or not the line is clear.

    ‘the driver of the mail train overran a signal at danger and ran into the rear of an express’
    • ‘Mitchell said police had yet to determine whether the railway signals and gates were working at the time of the crash.’
    • ‘The strike will affect repairs and fault finding in areas such as signals, train network and level crossings.’
    • ‘At one point, we had to stop at an interlocking and the dispatcher couldn't clear the signal because of the train ahead.’
    • ‘At the Hayward's Heath accident in 1973 the driver misread the signals and drove his loopline train on to the main line and it was struck from behind by an express.’
    • ‘By the time they finally achieved rail lock on the bridge and the signals had cleared, there were five southbound trains stuck behind the bridge coming from New York.’

verbsignalling, signalled, signals, signaled, signaling

[no object]
  • 1Convey information or instructions by means of a gesture, action, or sound.

    ‘hold your fire until I signal’
    • ‘After what seemed like an eternity to Jalen, the hunting horn sounded, signaling in the hunt's end.’
    • ‘My first thought was that mother would wave her hand signalling me down to her.’
    • ‘It is an error-free link to the application; it will either give good data or keep trying to get good data until it signals that the link is down.’
    • ‘You want to signal him that you're going to leave - but the room is too loud.’
    • ‘A buzzer sounded, signaling that the battle was over.’
    • ‘Cody makes a stupid buzzing sound signaling I had gotten the answer wrong.’
    • ‘Somewhere in the distance a bell sounded, signaling that the break was half over.’
    • ‘At 8: 00 a.m. a rocket sounds off, signaling that the bulls are on the street, and a hush fails over the crowd.’
    • ‘Motioning for her to stay around the corner until he signalled, Paris walked towards Blair's cell.’
    • ‘The car gave a small beeping sound to signal that it was open.’
    • ‘She stopped at the end of the sidewalk and waited for the sound that signaled she could cross the street.’
    • ‘A tone sounded, signaling that the next shift should come to the bridge immediately.’
    • ‘The captain nodded a little bit as his body swayed gently as a locking sound went through the entire ship signaling that all was secure and the ship was now pressurizing itself.’
    • ‘Today, when I was leaving work, a woman who works in the division that my department supports signalled me over.’
    • ‘He and the other men would fly until after dusk, hoping survivors might be trying to signal with a fire.’
    • ‘A glance towards his father signaled he was ready.’
    • ‘The bell sounds, signaling that this particular day of school has officially come to a close.’
    • ‘Claire no sooner had entered the EMS station that the bell sounded, signaling that they were needed somewhere to help somebody.’
    • ‘Settling into his chair, the king waved vaguely at the man to signal him that he could read his missive.’
    • ‘Madoka's father must have handed the parking attendant a tip ahead of time with instructions to signal when Madoka and her mother arrived.’
    1. 1.1with object and infinitive Instruct (someone) to do something by means of gestures or signs.
      ‘she signalled Charlotte to be silent’
      • ‘When he saw Sarah at the window he waved and signaled her to come outside.’
      • ‘I closed my eyes and nodded, signaling her to go on.’
      • ‘She took his arm, and winked at Rina, signalling her to follow.’
      • ‘And then, he saw Nathan waving a hand, signaling him to come closer.’
      • ‘Michele saw Mr. Coltrane excuse himself from the crowd of executives, and wave a hand to her to signal her to join him.’
      • ‘I wave at him, indirectly signaling him to leave.’
      • ‘Steven stepped closer, signalling me to do or say something, and out the corner of my eye, I saw Paul flinch as though he was ready to throw another punch.’
      • ‘He leaned back and waved his hand signalling Andrea to go over to him.’
      • ‘The siren is wailing, signaling you to pull over.’
      • ‘She stopped at the street corner and waited for the walk sign to turn on and signal her to cross.’
      • ‘She gave the thumbs-up sign to her mechanic, signaling him to get out of the way.’
      • ‘I leaned over and tapped Alyssa on the shoulder, and signaled her to follow me by motioning my head in that direction.’
      • ‘He heard the trunk slam shut, signaling him to depart.’
      • ‘Sasaki held her hand out, signaling Chloe to be quiet.’
      • ‘I made motions with my hand signaling Elizabeth to keep it down.’
      • ‘Expressionless except for his puffed cheeks, he blew his whistle twice, signaling us to fall in line behind the school's back door.’
      • ‘He waved his hand, signaling someone to go up to the front.’
      • ‘It's as if we are waiting for a starting gun to signal us to go.’
      • ‘I saw Milgridge waving me toward him, signaling me to run.’
      • ‘Waving his hand to me, he signaled me to come join him.’
      gesture, sign, give a sign to, indicate, direct, motion, gesticulate
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 (of a cyclist, motorist, or vehicle) indicate an intention to turn in a specified direction using an extended arm or flashing indicator.
      with complement ‘Stone signalled right’
      with infinitive ‘the truck signalled to turn left’
      • ‘That may lead to the issue of whether he was simply following this tractor trailer too closely or whether, in fact, if the tractor trailer wasn't signaling.’
      • ‘While making a right turn at any turning off a main road, you are advised to signal, wait for other vehicles and check your rear view mirror.’
      • ‘When turning into the second of two junctions which are close to each other, the driver should not signal until he has passed the first junction.’
      • ‘Just as I was beginning to worry that my tow truck would never appear, a truck signalled off the highway and came to a stop right behind.’
      • ‘His report also states that the defendant vehicle signaled and turned left onto Orenda.’
      • ‘Kate whipped her Chevy Cavalier into the driveway without signaling as angry motorists honked and yelled obscenities at her.’
      • ‘Don't expect other vehicles to signal their intentions - indicators don't necessarily mean they want to turn.’
      • ‘‘Many do not have any road sense, do not know what and how to signal with hand and are totally indifferent to vehicles in their front and back’.’
      • ‘It may be a split second of indecision at a roundabout, a moment's inattention while pulling out of a parking space, a failure to spot another driver signalling.’
    3. 1.3with object Indicate the existence or occurrence of (something) by actions or sounds.
      ‘the Community could signal displeasure by refusing to cooperate’
      with clause ‘she gave a glance which signalled that her father was being secretive’
      • ‘In the third frame, the two clubs combined for four goals before the horn sounded to signal the end of the game.’
      • ‘The sounds of approaching footsteps signaled the return of the other tourists.’
      • ‘The sound of crunching leaves signals the closeness of the man and soon enough, the driver's door opens.’
      • ‘A blip sounded off signaling the entry of an intruder.’
      • ‘A small bell tinkled above my head, the sound signaling my arrival.’
      • ‘After this fun, a foghorn sounded to signal the beginning of a ‘self-guided’ walking tour.’
      • ‘In the background the drums sounded signaling the end of the dance.’
      • ‘A horn sounded, signalling the arrival of Peter's opponent.’
      • ‘For the best part of a century, that clanging sound signalled the abrupt end of an English night out.’
      • ‘Dallas seemed to indicate a free-kick but his assistant, Derek Lowe, signalled that the offence had been inside the area.’
      • ‘Caelyn was grateful when the last bell sounded, signaling the end of school for another day and another week.’
      • ‘In measures 68 and 69, an A-major chord, the dominant of the key, is sounded, signaling the end of the piece.’
      • ‘Finally, the gun sounded again, signaling the last lap of the race.’
      • ‘Several metrics likely signaled declining performance and the need to reduce headcount.’
      • ‘In fact I was almost sad when the bell sounded signalling the end of lunch.’
      • ‘She recognized the sound - it signalled a weapons lock-on.’
      • ‘Counselors need to understand that the sound of sirens may signal danger to them.’
      • ‘He lifted his head at the sound of voices signalling attention.’
      • ‘Finally the gong sounded, signaling the end of Mihradi's shift.’
      • ‘‘Students, please rise for the Pledge of Allegiance,’ the loud speaker sounded, signaling the beginning of the announcements.’
      indicate, show, express, communicate
      View synonyms

Origin

Late Middle English: from Old French, from medieval Latin signale, neuter of late Latin signalis, from Latin signum ‘mark, token’ (see sign). The verb dates from the early 19th century.

Pronunciation

signal

/ˈsɪɡn(ə)l/

Main definitions of signal in English

: signal1signal2

signal2

adjective

  • attributive Striking in extent, seriousness, or importance; outstanding.

    ‘he attacked the government for their signal failure of leadership’
    • ‘Irony is of signal importance in English humour, in everything from radio comedy to literature.’
    • ‘To some the signal importance of that event was eclipsed by another aspect of the morning's ceremonies.’
    • ‘In recent years, the signal failures of those systems to reverse years of misguided teachings appear to be dooming the region to years of further conflict.’
    • ‘Irfan Habib, an eminent Marxist historian, is known for his signal contribution to the study of medieval India and the making of the modern Indian state.’
    • ‘Although of signal importance in itself, even the characteristic dominance must be seen as a by-product of serum testosterone.’
    • ‘One of the signal developments of the past few years is the near-incestuous absorption of media firms by one another.’
    • ‘The signal orange color of the shirt was chosen for the same reason it is used where caution is required - it's the most visible color in person, on camera, and on video.’
    • ‘The ability to create brilliant work over a long period of time is the signal characteristic of Bob Dylan's genius.’
    • ‘It was not until near the end of Freud's life that he began to appreciate the signal importance of the infant's relationship with the mother.’
    • ‘You can understand why I would have assumed it was Jeffrey Hudson, but all this is a signal lesson as to why you shouldn't jump to such obvious conclusions and look for alternative explanations.’
    notable, noteworthy, remarkable, striking, glaring, outstanding, significant, momentous, memorable, unforgettable, pronounced, marked, obvious
    View synonyms

Origin

Early 17th century: from French signalé, from the Italian past participle segnalato ‘distinguished, made illustrious’, from segnale ‘a signal’.

Pronunciation

signal

/ˈsɪɡn(ə)l/