1 sth that shows that sth exists/may happen
classic, clear, definite, distinct, obvious, real, sure, telltale, unmistakable

He displayed the classic signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.

the telltale signs of drug abuse


The lack of interest in the media is a telling sign of the industry's health.


I detected the subtle signs of disapproval.

external, outward, visible

All the outward signs of growth in the market are there.

early, first

Strong dislikes of foods are early signs of pregnancy.

encouraging, good, healthy, hopeful, positive, promising, welcome

He was silent. It was a good sign.

bad, disturbing, troubling (esp. AmE)
danger, ominous, warning

The warning signs were present from the start.

Are appliances you buy safe? We point out the danger signs.


She checked his vital signs and found that his pulse was slow.

bear, have

The murder had all the signs of a crime of passion.

betray, display, exhibit, give, show

His face betrayed no sign of emotion.

By now the fish was showing signs of distress.

point to sth

Early signs point to business improving.

detect, find, notice, see, spot

We detected signs that they were less than enthusiastic about their honeymoon.


He ignored the warning signs of mounting health problems.

interpret (sth as), read, recognize, see sth as
look for, watch for

Look carefully for signs of damp.

appear, come

The first signs of spring appeared.

indicate sth, point to sth

All the signs pointed to it being more than just a coincidence.

at a/the sign

He disappeared at the first sign of trouble.

sign from

The people regarded the earthquake as a sign from God.

sign of

This move will be seen as a sign of weakness.

There's no sign of the snow stopping.

sign of life

There was no sign of life in the house (= there seemed to be nobody there).

a sign of the times

It's a real sign of the times: thirty small businesses face financial ruin this month.

a sign of things to come

I hope this incident isn't a sign of things to come.

not the least sign (of sb/sth), not the slightest sign (of sb/sth)

He spoke up without the slightest sign of nervousness.

the signs and symptoms

Get this test if you have signs and symptoms of diabetes.

2 board, etc. giving information/a warning
flashing, illuminated (esp. BrE), neon

She spotted a faded sign in the window of a small restaurant.

hand-lettered (AmE), handwritten
home-made (esp. AmE)
cardboard, wooden
pub (BrE), shop (esp. BrE), store (esp. AmE), street
lawn, yard (both AmE)

I put out a lawn sign in my yard (= to show political support).

direction (esp. BrE), highway (esp. AmE), motorway (in the UK), road, traffic
picket (AmE)

He gets $300 a week from the union for carrying a picket sign.

erect, hang, hang out, hang up, place, post (esp. AmE), put up

Someone had put up a ‘For Sale’ sign.

carry, hold up, wave (all esp. AmE)

The demonstrators shouted and waved signs.

wear (usually figurative)

He might as well have been wearing a sign saying ‘I am a tourist’.

see, spot

He yelled at us for ignoring the stop sign.


Just follow the signs for Bridgend.

read sth

The sign read ‘No Fishing’.

announce sth, proclaim sth, say sth, state sth, tell sb sth
bear sth

hundreds of signs bearing the single word ‘Peace’

indicate sth, mark sth

This sign indicates that photography is allowed.


The sign pointed down a narrow road.

advertise sth

signs warning against trespass


A neon sign flashed above the door.

sign for, sign to

Follow the road and you'll see signs for the turn-off.

3 movement with a particular meaning
peace, thumbs-up, V (usually V-sign)

She made a peace sign while having her picture taken.

give (sb), make

She gave me a thumbs-up sign.

communicate through

They had to communicate through signs and grunts.

language, system

We used sign language to talk.

sign for

the sign for ‘woman’ in sign language

make the sign of the cross

The priest made the sign of the cross over the dead body.

4 mark/symbol with a particular meaning
dollar, euro, pound, etc. (In the US, the pound sign refers to ‘\#’. In the UK, it refers to the currency sign ‘£’.)
equals, minus, plus, etc.

a T-shirt with a peace sign on it


Bravo Two Zero was the call sign of an eight-man SAS team.

a pilot who goes by the call sign Blaze


He drew a huge dollar sign on the paper.


I used the Chinese sign for ‘father’ instead of ‘uncle’.

mean sth

What does this sign mean?

sign for

I can't remember the sign for ‘square root’.

5 star sign
birth, star
astrological, zodiac

the twelve astrological signs

Mars rules the zodiac sign of Aries.

be born under
sign of

people born under the sign of Gemini

the signs of the Zodiac

One copy of this letter should be duly signed and returned to us.

formally, officially

a first edition of the book, personally signed by the author


You can sign up online for language classes.

be required to, have to, need to

This is the contract you will be required to sign.

ask sb to, persuade sb to
agree to
refuse to
want to
be willing to

The courier asked me to sign for the parcel.

Sign is used with these nouns as the subject: ↑country, ↑president, ↑witness
Sign is used with these nouns as the object: ↑accord, ↑agreement, ↑armistice, ↑artist, ↑autograph, ↑bill, ↑card, ↑ceasefire, ↑charter, ↑cheque, ↑confession, ↑consent, ↑constitution, ↑contract, ↑convention, ↑copy, ↑deal, ↑declaration, ↑decree, ↑directive, ↑document, ↑extension, ↑form, ↑initial, ↑lease, ↑legislation, ↑letter, ↑manifesto, ↑memo, ↑memorandum, ↑minute, ↑name, ↑note, ↑oath, ↑order, ↑pact, ↑paper, ↑paperwork, ↑petition, ↑pitcher, ↑player, ↑pledge, ↑proclamation, ↑receipt, ↑register, ↑slip, ↑treaty, ↑truce, ↑undertaking, ↑warrant, ↑will

Collocations dictionary. 2013.

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