Definition of significance in English:



mass noun
  • 1The quality of being worthy of attention; importance.

    ‘adolescent education was felt to be a social issue of some significance’
    • ‘They were no doubt too busy but ill-advised as to the proper significance of such a distinguished visitor.’
    • ‘The significance of these results is discussed in terms of models for replication restart.’
    • ‘Further evaluation is needed to be able to assess the biological significance of these findings.’
    • ‘We now come to the importance and significance of science in human affairs.’
    • ‘The significance of the imports is that those books are priced much lower.’
    • ‘All committal hearings are proceedings of significance and importance.’
    • ‘Nevertheless, it is an important precedent with wider significance in environmental law.’
    • ‘Since its inception, radio has had a particular symbolic significance attached to it.’
    • ‘The work was incomplete at the time of his death but it is still a work of the greatest significance in the theory of probability.’
    • ‘In many cultures, water is not just a necessity of life, it has a deep spiritual significance, too.’
    • ‘The significance of this idea for the development of science from the first beginnings to the present day has been immense.’
    • ‘This could help the country promote its own agenda on issues of significance on the world stage.’
    • ‘It is the breadth and the quality of Kelvingrove's hoard that gives the museum international significance.’
    • ‘But he fails to articulate a clear position on any issue of major public significance.’
    • ‘Mr Jordan said it was important electors appreciate the significance of the new arrangements.’
    • ‘Despite speculation to the contrary, the compensation issue is of limited significance.’
    • ‘"This is arguably the most important building in terms of Heritage significance in the main street of Alstonville.’
    • ‘Electoral reform is not an issue of significance to the wider electorate.’
    • ‘Mr Suzuki said the coup issue has special significance for the union movement.’
    • ‘Because of its representative nature the Memorial should be recognized as a site of national heritage significance.’
    importance, import, noteworthiness, consequence, substance, seriousness, gravity, weight, weightiness, magnitude, moment, momentousness
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  • 2The meaning to be found in words or events.

    ‘the significance of what was happening was clearer to me than to her’
    • ‘On my block in Laventille, teenagers didn't attach due significance to the event.’
    • ‘This saying alerts the reader to the deeper significance of the events which are about to be narrated.’
    • ‘From her point of view it was an event devoid of any significance whatsoever.’
    • ‘Later that same year occurred an event of some significance in the history of Punjab and India.’
    • ‘The very mysteriousness of his paintings added significance to every word he wrote or spoke on the subject of art.’
    • ‘For him, these trips and the conversations he has had with people have special significance.’
    • ‘Several previously exhibited works took on new significance in the context of this exhibition.’
    • ‘The term treaty has a special constitutional significance in the United States.’
    • ‘He believes that the deal hammered out over the club has special significance.’
    • ‘It is only in the future that the significance of certain events and tendencies becomes clear.’
    • ‘We are so accustomed to the use of this expression that we forget to stop and think of its meaning or significance.’
    • ‘I am to set in motion a concatenation of events whose end or significance I can in no way envisage.’
    • ‘He became more aware of the significance of the event on the day of the funeral.’
    • ‘However, the word's real significance in the context of his comments lay in what it did not convey.’
    • ‘What he probably means is that this was the first event of any real significance; only then did his life properly begin.’
    • ‘This event has additional significance this year as it is the second leg of the Rivercare Championship for the Ouse.’
    • ‘The legal significance of the events which I recited is, in our submission, a matter of law.’
    • ‘The same words can take on different meanings and significance depending on who uses them in a particular context.’
    • ‘I discovered I had just missed an event of some significance in my wife's family.’
    • ‘Old words were being given new significance, and new words were being coined to meet new demands.’
    meaning, sense, signification, import, thrust, drift, gist, burden, theme, implication, tenor, message, essence, substance, relevance, purport, intention, spirit, point
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  • 3The extent to which a result deviates from that expected to arise simply from random variation or errors in sampling.

    • ‘We used the Wald statistic to assess statistical significance of the results.’
    • ‘I do not think that the significance of the error can be discounted in this way.’
    • ‘The statistical significance of each estimated coefficient was assessed using the Wald statistic for each.’
    • ‘Chi-square analysis was used to determine the statistical significance of phenotypic differences observed among different genotypes.’
    • ‘The failure of the results to reach statistical significance in women may simply reflect the fact that fewer procedures are carried out in women.’


Late Middle English (denoting unstated meaning): from Old French, or from Latin significantia, from significare ‘indicate, portend’.