1 sth that shows that sth exists/may happen
ADJ. clear, definite, distinct, obvious, real, sure, telltale, unmistakable | external, outward, visible All the outward signs of growth in the market are there. | tangible | early, first Strong likes or dislikes of various foods are another of the early signs of pregnancy. | increasing | encouraging, good, healthy, hopeful, positive, welcome He was silent. It was a good sign. | bad, disturbing | danger, ominous, warning Are appliances you buy safe? We point out the danger signs.
VERB + SIGN bear, have The murder had all the signs of a crime of passion. | exhibit, display, give, show By now the fish was showing signs of distress. | detect, find, see, watch out for We detected signs that they were less than enthusiastic about the holiday. | interpret (sth as), read, recognize, see sth as | look for Look carefully for signs of damp. | point out
SIGN + VERB 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.
PREP. at a/the ~ He disappeared at the first sign of trouble. | from ~ The villages regarded the earthquake as a sign from God. | ~ of
PHRASES 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: 30 small businesses face financial ruin this month. | little/no/not the least/not the slightest sign (of sb/sth) He spoke up without the slightest sign of nervousness.
2 board, etc. giving information/a warning
ADJ. flashing, illuminated | neon | handwritten, painted | exit | inn, pub, shop, street | direction, road, traffic | ‘Stop’ | warning | ‘For sale’, ‘No Smoking’, ‘To let’
VERB + SIGN erect, hang out/up, hold up, put up Some of the marchers were holding up signs and placards. Someone had put up a ‘For Sale’ sign. | see | read | follow Just follow the signs for Bridgend.
SIGN + VERB read sth, say sth The sign read ‘No Fishing’. | indicate sth This sign indicates that cycling is allowed. | point The sign pointed down a small lane. | advertise sth | warn signs warning against trespass | flash A neon sign flashed above the door.
PREP. ~ for/to Follow the road and you'll see signs for the turn-off.
3 movement with a particular meaning
ADJ. frantic | rude | thumbs-up, V
VERB + SIGN give (sb), make She gave me a thumbs-up sign. | communicate through They had to communicate through signs and grunts.
SIGN + NOUN language, system
PREP. ~ for the sign for ‘woman’ in sign language
PHRASES 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
ADJ. euro, pound, etc. | equals, minus, plus, etc.
VERB + SIGN draw, make The wizard drew some strange signs in the air with his wand. | use I used the Chinese sign for ‘father’ instead of ‘uncle’.
SIGN + VERB mean sth What does this sign mean?
PREP. ~ for I can't remember the sign for ‘square root’.
5 star sign
ADJ. birth, star
VERB + SIGN be born under
PREP. ~ of people born under the sign of Gemini
PHRASES the signs of the Zodiac
ADV. duly One copy of this letter should be duly signed and returned to us. | formally | personally a first edition of the book, personally signed by the author
VERB + SIGN be required to, have to This is the contract you will be required to sign. | ask sb to, persuade sb to | agree to | refuse to
PREP. for The postman asked me to sign for the parcel.