Meaning of “signal” in the English Dictionary

"signal" in British English

See all translations

signalnoun [ C ]

uk /ˈsɪɡ.nəl/ us /ˈsɪɡ.nəl/

signal noun [ C ] (ACTION)

B2 an action, movement, or sound that gives information, a message, a warning, or an order:

When she gave (them) the signal, they all cheered.
[ + that ] The fireworks were a signal that the festival had started.
[ + to infinitive ] The police officer gave us the signal to stop.
The signal for a race to start is often the firing of a gun.

US UK indicator a turn signal

More examples

  • At a prearranged signal, everyone started moving forwards.
  • I usually set my watch by the time signal on the radio.
  • At the given signal, the group rushed forward to the barrier.
  • I've been trying to call him all evening, but I keep getting the engaged signal.
  • A whistle is the signal for the children to line up ready to go into the classroom.

signal noun [ C ] (WAVE)

B2 a series of electrical or radio waves that are sent to a radio or television in order to produce a sound, picture, or message

Examples

  • The picture quality is bad because the TV signal isn't powerful enough.
  • The equipment sent out a regular high-pitched signal.
  • There is some interference on the signal - do not adjust your set.

signal noun [ C ] (SHOWING)

something that shows that something else exists or is likely to happen:

The loss is a clear signal of his deteriorating confidence.
The changing colour of the leaves on the trees is a signal that it will soon be autumn.

signalverb

uk /ˈsɪɡ.nəl/ us /ˈsɪɡ.nəl/ -ll- or US usually -l-

signal verb (ACTION)

C2 [ I or T ] to make a movement, sound, flash, etc. that gives information or tells people what to do:

Flashing lights on a parked car usually signal a warning (to other drivers).
He signalled left, and turned the lorry slowly.
He was signalling (= giving a signal) with a red flag.
She signalled for help.
[ + that ] She signalled to the cars behind her that they were going the wrong way.
[ + obj + to infinitive ] The children's mother signalled them to be quiet.
[ + to infinitive ] The children's mother signalled to/for them to be quiet.

More examples

  • She signalled to them to sit down.
  • The ship signalled for help.
  • A flashing light signalled that there was danger ahead.
  • I signalled left and turned into the driveway.

signal verb (SHOW)

[ T ] to show that you intend or are ready to do something:

[ + that ] The union has signalled that the workers will strike.
The union has signalled the workers' intention to strike.
The death of Chairman Mao signalled (= marked) the end of an era in Chinese history.

signaladjective [ before noun ]

uk /ˈsɪɡ.nəl/ us /ˈsɪɡ.nəl/ formal

(Definition of “signal” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"signal" in American English

See all translations

signalnoun [ C ]

us /ˈsɪɡ·nəl/

signal noun [ C ] (ACTION)

an action, movement, or sound that gives information, a message, a warning, or an order:

I tried to call but kept getting a busy signal.
When the lieutenant gave the signal, five police officers charged into the apartment.
In retrospect, looking at how she was acting, we should have been able to recognize the danger signals.

A signal is also a device, often with lights, that shows people or vehicles whether to stop, go, or move carefully.

signal noun [ C ] (WAVE)

a series of energy waves that carry a sound, picture, or other information:

a low-frequency radio signal

signaladjective

us /ˈsɪɡ·nəl/ fml

signal adjective (IMPORTANT)

unusual and important:

You performed a signal service to our people, and we wish to express our gratitude.

signalverb [ I/T ]

us /ˈsɪɡ·nəl/

signal verb [ I/T ] (MAKE MOVEMENT)

to make a movement, sound, etc. that gives information or tells people what to do:

[ I ] When you learn to drive, you are told that you have to signal before you turn right or left.
[ T ] The police officer signaled us to stop.

(Definition of “signal” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"signal" in Business English

See all translations

signalnoun [ C ]

uk /ˈsɪɡnəl/ us

a sign that something is true or that something is going to happen:

a signal to sb It is a signal to the rest of the world that we are serious about global warming.
a clear/strong /important signal
a signal of sth It was a strong signal of the power now wielded by big institutional investors.
mixed/conflicting/contradicting signals
the right/wrong signal
a positive signal

COMMUNICATIONS a series of electrical or radio waves that are sent to a radio, television, or mobile phone in order to produce a sound, picture, or message:

I couldn't get a signal on my phone.

signalverb [ T ]

uk /ˈsɪɡnəl/ us UK -ll-, US -l-

to show that something is going to happen or that you are going to do something:

Drops in sales signal a tough year ahead.
signal that It recently signalled that it would not stand in the way of a takeover bid.

(Definition of “signal” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

Blogs about "signal"

by Liz Walter,