AskDefine | Define signed

Dictionary Definition

signed adj
1 having a handwritten signature; "a signed letter" [ant: unsigned]
2 used of the language of the deaf [syn: gestural, sign(a), sign-language(a)]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. (Mathematics and computer science) Having both positive and negative varieties.
    It wasn't until they tried to subtract 3 from 1 that the elementary school students realized they needed signed numbers.
  2. Having a signature, endorsed.
    The signed check could be cashed.

See also


  1. past of sign
    He signed his name with a flourish.
  2. To have used sign language.
    He signed so fast the beginners couldn't tell what he was saying.

Extensive Definition

A sign is an entity which signifies another entity. A natural sign is an entity which bears a causal relation to the signified entity, as thunder is a sign of storm. A conventional sign signifies by agreement, as a full stop signifies the end of a sentence. (Contrast a symbol which stands for another thing, as a flag may be a symbol of a nation)
The way in which a sign signifies is a topic in philosophy of language, see also Meaning (linguistic).
Any given signifier or symbol is dependent upon that which is intended, expressed, or signified in a semiotic relationship of signification, significance, meaning, or import. Thus, for example, people may speak of the significance of events, the signification of characters, the meaning of sentences, or the import of a communication. These different relationships that exist between sorts of signs can help people and sorts of things that are signified can be called the modes of signification.
The range of uses of signs are varied. They might include: the indication or mark of something, a display of a message, a signal to draw attention, evidence of an underlying cause (for instance, the symptoms of a disease are signs of the disease), a character for a mathematical operation, a body gesture, etc.

Nature of signs

Semiotics, epistemology, logic, and philosophy of language are concerned about the nature of signs, what they are and how they signify. The nature of signs and symbols and significations, their definition, elements, and types, is mainly established by Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas. According to these classic sources, significance is a relationship between two sorts of things: signs and the kinds of things they signify (intend, express or mean), where one term necessarily causes something else to come to the mind. Distinguishing natural signs and conventional signs, the traditional theory of signs sets the following threefold partition of things:
  1. There are things that are just things, not any sign at all;
  2. There are things that are also signs of other things (as natural signs of the physical world and mental signs of the mind);
  3. There are things that are always signs, as languages (natural and artificial) and other cultural nonverbal symbols, as documents, money, ceremonies, and rites.
Thus there are things which may act as signs without any respect to the human agent (the things of the external world, all sorts of indications, evidences, symptoms, and physical signals), there are signs which are always signs (the entities of the mind as ideas and images, thoughts and feelings, constructs and intentions); and there are signs that have to get their signification (as linguistic entities and cultural symbols). So, while natural signs serve as the source of signification, the human mind is the agency through which signs signify naturally occurring things, such as objects, states, qualities, quantities, events, processes, or relationships. Human language and discourse, communication, philosophy, science, logic, mathematics, poetry, theology, and religion are only some of fields of human study and activity where grasping the nature of signs and symbols and patterns of signification may have a decisive value.

Types of signs

A sign can denote any of the following:
signed in Czech: Znak
signed in Danish: Tegn
signed in German: Zeichen (Begriffsklärung)
signed in Spanish: Signo
signed in Estonian: Märk
signed in Esperanto: Signo
signed in French: Signe
signed in Croatian: Znak
signed in Ido: Signo
signed in Lithuanian: Ženklas
signed in Dutch: Sein
signed in Japanese: 記号
signed in Polish: Znak
signed in Portuguese: Signo
signed in Russian: Знак
signed in Simple English: Sign
signed in Slovenian: Znak
signed in Finnish: Merkki
signed in Swedish: Tecken
signed in Chinese: 表意文字
signed in Yiddish: צייכן

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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