Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun An indicator, such as a gesture or colored light, that serves as a means of communication. synonym: gesture.
  • noun A message communicated by such means.
  • noun Something that incites action.
  • noun Electronics An impulse or fluctuating quantity, as of electrical voltage or light intensity, whose variations represent coded information.
  • noun Computers A sequence of digital values whose variations represent coded information.
  • noun The sound, image, or message transmitted or received by means of telecommunications.
  • adjective Notably out of the ordinary.
  • intransitive verb To make a signal to.
  • intransitive verb To relate or make known by signals.
  • intransitive verb To cause an effect in (a cell) by the release of a chemical, such as a neurotransmitter or hormone.
  • intransitive verb To make a signal or signals.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In whist, any method of showing that the player wants trumps led. See trumps signal.
  • To mark with a sign.
  • To communicate or make known by a signal or by signals: as, to signal orders; a vessel signals its arrival.
  • To make signals to: as, the vessel signaled the forts.
  • To he a sign or omen.
  • To give a signal or signals; make communication by signals.
  • Constituting, or serving as, a typical sign or index; especially conspicuous or noteworthy; strikingly uncommon: as, a signal example; a signal failure; signal prosperity.
  • Of high grade or quality; eminent; great; elevated: applied to persons and feelings.
  • Synonyms Conspicuous, extraordinary.
  • noun Sign; token; indication.
  • noun A conventional or intelligible sign designed for information or guidance; an object displayed, a motion made, a light shown, a sound given out, or the like, for direction to or communication with a person or persons (especially at a distance) apprised of or able to recognize its intended meaning: as, to hoist, sound, or make a signal; military and naval signals; a warning signal; a book of signals (see signal-book).
  • noun An inciting action or movement; an exciting cause; an initial impulse: as, this tyrannous act was the signal for insurrection.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To communicate by signals.
  • transitive verb To notify by a signals; to make a signal or signals to.
  • noun A sign made for the purpose of giving notice to a person of some occurence, command, or danger; also, a sign, event, or watchword, which has been agreed upon as the occasion of concerted action.
  • noun A token; an indication; a foreshadowing; a sign.
  • adjective Noticeable; distinguished from what is ordinary; eminent; remarkable; memorable.
  • adjective Of or pertaining to signals, or the use of signals in conveying information.
  • adjective a bureau of the government (in the United States connected with the War Department) organized to collect from the whole country simultaneous raports of local meteorological conditions, upon comparison of which at the central office, predictions concerning the weather are telegraphed to various sections, where they are made known by signals publicly displayed.
  • adjective the place where a signal is displayed; specifically, an observation office of the signal service.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun An indication given to another person.
  • noun An on-off light, semaphore, or other device used to give an indication to another person.
  • noun TV, internet, etc An electrical or electromagnetic action, normally a voltage that is a function of time that conveys the information of the radio or TV program or of communication with another party.
  • noun Useful information.
  • noun computing, Unix A simple interprocess communication used to notify a process or thread of an occurrence.
  • verb To indicate.
  • adjective Standing above others in rank, importance, or achievement.

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

  • verb be a signal for or a symptom of
  • noun any incitement to action
  • noun an electric quantity (voltage or current or field strength) whose modulation represents coded information about the source from which it comes
  • adjective notably out of the ordinary
  • verb communicate silently and non-verbally by signals or signs
  • noun any nonverbal action or gesture that encodes a message

Etymologies

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

[Middle English, from Old French, from Medieval Latin signāle, from neuter of Late Latin signālis, of a sign, from Latin signum, sign; see sign.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French segnal, seignal or Medieval Latin signāle, noun use of the neuter of Late Latin signālis, from Latin signum.

Examples

  • This became a spam signal because it is so easy to create large database driven websites, but in the case of many sites it is also a good * quality signal* because the site may be very info rich, covering basically every mile of the Oregon Coast Highway 101 in good, objective detail.

    Joe Duck

  • The issue is not really “signaling”: everybody knows that the FDIC guarantee makes your (fractional reserve) bank account safer; there is no need to *signal* the fact (signaling is necessary only in the absence of a government guarantee, and even then it’s impossible to signal *that the government guarantees your account*, since it doesn’t).

    George Selgin on Free Banking, Arnold Kling | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

  • But does his willingness to press such a hot-button issue so early in his term signal an effort to change American hearts as well as minds?

    Top Stories - Google News

  • If you are admitting that an important part of the signal is a social signal, then there's no way for an entrepreneur to compete on price - When you're dealing with social cues of affluence, the price tag is an key part of the signal.

    Overcoming Signaling, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

  • The two giants of the net are at war over what I call signal generation: the ability to get us to generate data about ourselves – who we are, where we are, what we like, whom we like, what we buy, what we want, what we know, what we want to know – so they can serve us more relevant and valuable content, services, and advertising.

    Mark Zuckerberg's masterplan for the 'sharing economy' | Jeff Jarvis

  • The proposition that this can be taken as a signal is an empirical argument that has not been supported.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » Tushnet on Lithwick’s Lament

  • One thing against 802. 11n — despite the throughputs, the quality of the signal is almost always a game of chance.

    802.11n To Win The Wireless HD Video Sweepstakes

  • The signals are in the air, everywhere … and they eventually get absorbed by something, or dissipate into the atmosphere regardless of whether the signal is absorbed in a useful way.

    Nokia Phone Charges by Drawing Energy Out of Thin Air | Inhabitat

  • One thing against 802. 11n — despite the throughputs, the quality of the signal is almost always a game of chance.

    802.11n To Win The Wireless HD Video Sweepstakes

  • The two giants of the net are at war now over what I call signal generation: the ability to get us to generate data about ourselves—who we are, where we are, what we like, whom we like, what we buy, what we want, what we know, what we want to know—so they can serve us more relevant and valuable content, services, and advertising.

    Facebook's IPO announcement – as it happened

Comments

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  • "Can't stop the signal!" - the (fan) Browncoat's cry

    December 18, 2007

  • as an adjective. bleh.

    April 11, 2012