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Signify vs. Indicate: What's the Difference?

Edited by Huma Saeed || By Sawaira Riaz || Published on November 22, 2023
"Signify" means to convey meaning or represent something, while "Indicate" means to point out or show.

Key Differences

"Signify" and "Indicate" are two verbs in the English language that have related but distinct meanings. "Signify" often concerns itself with representing a deeper meaning or symbolism. For instance, a dove can signify peace. On the other hand, "Indicate" is more straightforward, often used when one wants to point out a specific detail or fact, such as an arrow indicating the right direction.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 22, 2023
Another way to differentiate between "Signify" and "Indicate" is by examining their usage in communication. When something "Signifies" another, it usually involves a level of interpretation or understanding on the part of the receiver. For instance, a red octagon in many cultures signifies a need to stop. Conversely, "Indicate" requires less interpretation, as it points directly to the matter at hand, like a gauge indicating a tank is full.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 22, 2023
"Signify" often carries a more abstract connotation, suggesting symbolic meanings, significance, or implications. For example, dark clouds might signify impending doom in literature. "Indicate", however, is more concrete and direct, denoting a clear demonstration or display. A thermometer indicates the temperature by directly showing a reading.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 22, 2023
In linguistics and semiotics, "Signify" relates to the idea of signs carrying meaning. Words signify concepts. "Indicate", in this domain, is more about markers or indicators that point to specific phenomena without necessarily carrying deep meaning.
Harlon Moss
Nov 22, 2023
In essence, while both "Signify" and "Indicate" relate to the realm of showing or suggesting, "Signify" delves more into symbolic representation and deeper meanings, whereas "Indicate" is about direct pointing or showing.
Sara Rehman
Nov 22, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Part of Speech

Verb
Verb
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 22, 2023

Definition

To represent or convey a meaning
To show, point out, or make known
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 22, 2023

Contextual Usage

Symbolic representation or deeper meaning
Direct demonstration or display
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 22, 2023

Abstract vs. Concrete

More abstract
More concrete
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 22, 2023

Etymological Origin

Latin "significare" (to make a sign)
Latin "indicatus" (to point out or show)
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 22, 2023
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Signify and Indicate Definitions

Signify

To represent or stand for.
The olive branch signifies peace.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 10, 2023

Indicate

To suggest or show a course of action.
His nod indicated his agreement.
Janet White
Oct 10, 2023

Signify

To convey a particular meaning.
In literature, winter often signifies death or stagnation.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 10, 2023

Indicate

To be a sign or symptom of.
Fever can indicate an infection.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 10, 2023

Signify

To have importance or consequence.
His actions signify a deeper intention.
Aimie Carlson
Oct 10, 2023

Indicate

To direct attention to.
The teacher indicated the chalkboard.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 10, 2023

Signify

To be a sign or indication of.
Her smile signified her approval.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 10, 2023

Indicate

To show the way to or the direction of; point out
An arrow indicating north.
Indicated the right road by nodding toward it.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 09, 2023

Signify

To denote; mean
A red traffic light signifies that traffic must stop.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 09, 2023

Indicate

To serve as a sign, symptom, or token of; signify
"The cracking and booming of the ice indicate a change of temperature" (Henry David Thoreau).
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 09, 2023

Signify

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.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 09, 2023

Indicate

To suggest or demonstrate the necessity, expedience, or advisability of
The symptoms indicate immediate surgery.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 09, 2023

Signify

To make known, as with a sign or word
He signified his disagreement with a frown.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 09, 2023

Indicate

To state or express briefly
Indicated his wishes in a letter.
Indicating her approval with a nod.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 09, 2023

Signify

To have meaning or importance.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 09, 2023

Indicate

To point out; to discover; to direct to a knowledge of; to show; to make known.
The guard blew his whistle to indicate imminent departure.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 09, 2023

Signify

(Slang) To exchange humorous insults in a verbal game.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 09, 2023

Indicate

To show or manifest by symptoms; to point to as the proper remedies.
Great prostration of strength indicates the use of stimulants.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 09, 2023

Signify

To create a sign out of something.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 09, 2023

Indicate

To signal in a vehicle the desire to turn right or left.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 09, 2023

Signify

To give (something) a meaning or an importance. en
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 09, 2023

Indicate

To investigate the condition or power of, as of steam engine, by means of an indicator.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 09, 2023

Signify

To show one’s intentions with a sign etc.; to indicate, announce.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 09, 2023

Indicate

To point out; to discover; to direct to a knowledge of; to show; to make known.
That turns and turns to indicateFrom what point blows the weather.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 09, 2023

Signify

To mean; to betoken.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 09, 2023

Indicate

To show or manifest by symptoms; to point to as the proper remedies; as, great prostration of strength indicates the use of stimulants. Opposite of contraindicate.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 09, 2023

Signify

To make a difference; to matter (in negative or interrogative expressions).
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 09, 2023

Indicate

To investigate the condition or power of, as of steam engine, by means of an indicator.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 09, 2023

Signify

To show by a sign; to communicate by any conventional token, as words, gestures, signals, or the like; to announce; to make known; to declare; to express; as, a signified his desire to be present.
I 'll to the king; and signify to himThat thus I have resign'd my charge to you.
The government should signify to the Protestants of Ireland that want of silver is not to be remedied.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 09, 2023

Indicate

Be a signal for or a symptom of;
These symptoms indicate a serious illness
Her behavior points to a severe neurosis
The economic indicators signal that the euro is undervalued
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 09, 2023

Signify

To mean; to import; to denote; to betoken.
He bade her tell him what it signified.
A taleTold by an idiot, full of sound and fury,Signifying nothing.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 09, 2023

Indicate

Indicate a place, direction, person, or thing; either spatially or figuratively;
I showed the customer the glove section
He pointed to the empty parking space
He indicated his opponents
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 09, 2023

Signify

Denote or connote;
`maison' means `house' in French
An example sentence would show what this word means
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 09, 2023

Indicate

To state or express briefly;
Indicated his wishes in a letter
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 09, 2023

Signify

Convey or express a meaning;
These words mean nothing to me!
What does his strange behavior signify?
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 09, 2023

Indicate

Give evidence of;
The evidence argues for your claim
The results indicate the need for more work
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 09, 2023

Signify

Make known with a word or signal;
He signified his wish to pay the bill for our meal
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 09, 2023

Indicate

Suggest the necessity of an intervention; in medicine;
Tetracycline is indicated in such cases
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 09, 2023

Signify

To make known by signs or words.
The bell signifies the end of class.
Sawaira Riaz
Oct 10, 2023

Indicate

To point out or point to.
The sign indicates the entrance.
Sara Rehman
Oct 10, 2023

Indicate

To register or display.
The gauge indicates full pressure.
Janet White
Oct 10, 2023

FAQs

Can "Indicate" be used in medical contexts?

Yes, like symptoms indicating a certain condition.
Janet White
Nov 22, 2023

Is "Indicate" always about pointing to something physical?

No, it can be abstract, like indicating a preference.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 22, 2023

Is "Signify" always abstract?

Often, but not always. It can have direct representations.
Sara Rehman
Nov 22, 2023

Can "Signify" be used for direct representation?

Yes, but it often implies a deeper or symbolic meaning.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 22, 2023

What's a synonym for "Signify"?

"Denote" can be a synonym in certain contexts.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 22, 2023

Is "Signify" only about symbols?

No, it can also be about indicating importance or consequence.
Harlon Moss
Nov 22, 2023

How does "Indicate" differ from "Suggest"?

"Indicate" is more direct, while "Suggest" implies a recommendation or hint.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 22, 2023

Can an instrument "Indicate" measurements?

Yes, like a meter indicating voltage.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 22, 2023

Can a novel "Signify" a cultural shift?

Yes, if it represents or suggests broader societal changes.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 22, 2023

Can a glance "Indicate" emotion?

Yes, like a frown indicating displeasure.
Harlon Moss
Nov 22, 2023

Can colors "Signify" emotions?

Yes, like red signifying love or anger.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 22, 2023

Can a symbol "Signify" multiple things?

Yes, depending on context and interpretation.
Sara Rehman
Nov 22, 2023

Can a gesture "Indicate" a direction?

Yes, like pointing to show where to go.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 22, 2023

What's the opposite of "Indicate"?

"Conceal" or "Hide" can be opposites in some contexts.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 22, 2023

What does it mean if an event "Signifies" a change?

It means the event represents or heralds a change.
Harlon Moss
Nov 22, 2023

How do arrows typically "Indicate"?

Arrows indicate direction or position.
Aimie Carlson
Nov 22, 2023

Does "Indicate" always mean to physically show?

No, it can be used in abstract senses, like indicating agreement.
Harlon Moss
Nov 22, 2023

Can weather "Indicate" a season's change?

Yes, like falling leaves indicating autumn.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 22, 2023

Can numbers "Signify" rankings?

Yes, like "1" signifying the best or top position.
Harlon Moss
Nov 22, 2023

What does it mean for a trend to "Signify" a movement?

It means the trend represents or symbolizes that movement.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 22, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.
Edited by
Huma Saeed
Huma is a renowned researcher acclaimed for her innovative work in Difference Wiki. Her dedication has led to key breakthroughs, establishing her prominence in academia. Her contributions continually inspire and guide her field.

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