v. sig·ni·fied, sig·ni·fy·ing, sig·ni·fies
1. To denote; mean: A red traffic light signifies that traffic must stop.
2. To be a sign or indication of; suggest or imply: The test results will signify how serious the problem is. The surge in housing starts signifies an upturn in the economy.
3. To make known, as with a sign or word: He signified his disagreement with a frown.
1. To have meaning or importance.
2. Slang To exchange humorous insults in a verbal game.
[Middle English signifien, from Old French signifier, from Latin significāre : signum, sign; see SIGN + -ficāre, -fy.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.