Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Having or expressing a meaning; meaningful.
  • adj. Having or expressing a covert meaning; suggestive: a significant glance. See Synonyms at expressive.
  • adj. Having or likely to have a major effect; important: a significant change in the tax laws.
  • adj. Fairly large in amount or quantity: significant casualties; no significant opposition.
  • adj. Statistics Of or relating to observations or occurrences that are too closely correlated to be attributed to chance and therefore indicate a systematic relationship.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Signifying something; carrying meaning.
  • adj. Having a covert or hidden meaning
  • adj. Having a noticeable or major effect; notable
  • adj. Reasonably large in number or amount
  • adj. Having a low probability of occurring by chance (for example, having high correlation and thus likely to be related).
  • n. That which has significance; a sign; a token; a symbol.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Fitted or designed to signify or make known somethingl having a meaning; standing as a sign or token; expressive or suggestive.
  • adj. Deserving to be considered; important; momentous.
  • n. That which has significance; a sign; a token; a symbol.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Signifying something; conveying a meaning; having a purport; expressive; implying some character, and not merely denotative: as, a significant word or sound.
  • Serving as a sign or indication; having a special or covert meaning; suggestive; meaning: as, a significant gesture; a significant look.
  • Important; notable; weighty; more strictly, important for what it indicates, but also, often, important in its consequences: opposed to insignificant: as, a significant event.
  • n. That which is significant; a meaning, sign, or indication.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. too closely correlated to be attributed to chance and therefore indicating a systematic relation
  • adj. important in effect or meaning
  • adj. fairly large
  • adj. rich in significance or implication

Etymologies

Latin significāns, significant-, present participle of significāre, to signify; see signify.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin significans, present participle of significare, from signum, "sign", + ficare, "do" or "make", variant of facere. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The SEC's proposal asks questions about whether the SEC should define the term "significant error."

    Yahoo! News: Business - Opinion

  • "If the commission were to define the term significant error ... we believe it would effectively be substituting its judgment" for the credit-rating agencies, S&P President Deven Sharma said in the letter.

    Yahoo! News: Business - Opinion

  • As I would soon learn, not only was the word significant here but its specific connection with lilies was important as well.

    The Sacred Promise

  • The January, 2007 National School Boards Association document, "More Than a Horse Race: A Guide to International Comparisons," contains this sentence: "Throughout this guide the term significant differences always refers to a statistically significant difference meaning the differences between scores are meaningful and did not happen by chance" (emphasis in the original).

    Gerald Bracey: The Insignificance of Significance

  • Is the title significant, or it is something like Manager vs Senior Manager?

    Ask MetaFilter

  • Well, Norm just used the term significant, am I to take that in the accounting sense,

    China Stocks News and Analysis from Seeking Alpha

  • He says we need to go beyond diplomacy and talk about action, which he defined as significant, meaningful, and impactful sanctions against Iran.

    CNN Transcript Jul 9, 2008

  • Where nuclear-armed Pakistan is concerned, facing what he called a significant though small radicalized minority, Biden said there is no choice but to continue current efforts.

    Obama to Hold First Afghanistan-Pakistan Meeting of 2011

  • Two professors who conducted the study uncovered what they refer to as a significant "democratic deficit," in Michigan.

    Patricia Lesko: Michigan Senate GOP Legislators Move to Make Recalls Much More Difficult

  • Onnie Carr says he registered his crowd-funding site, WealthForge LLC, as a broker dealer in Virginia, North Carolina, Texas and Colorado at what he describes as a significant expense.

    Crowd-Funding Brings Unease

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