From Latin significans, present participle of significare, from signum (sign) + ficare (do, make), variant of facere.


  • IPA(key): /sɪɡˈnɪ.fɪ.kənt/
  • (file)
  • (US, also) IPA(key): /sɪɡˈnɪ.fɪ.ɡənt/


significant (comparative more significant, superlative most significant)

  1. Signifying something; carrying meaning.
    Synonym: meaningful
    a significant word or sound
    a significant look
    • 1614, Walter Raleigh, Historie of the World
      It was well said of Plotinus, that the stars were significant, but not efficient.
    • 1856, Charles Dickens; Wilkie Collins, chapter III, in The Wreck of the Golden Mary, part two, page 99:
      As evening came on, it grew prematurely dark and cloudy; while the waves acquired that dull indigo tint so significant of ugly weather.
  2. Having a covert or hidden meaning.
  3. Having a noticeable or major effect.
    Synonym: notable
    That was a significant step in the right direction.
    The First World War was a significant event.
    • 2015, Shane R. Reeves; David Wallace, “The Combatant Status of the “Little Green Men” and Other Participants in the Ukraine Conflict”, in International Law Studies, US Naval War College[1], volume 91, number 361, Stockton Center for the Study of International Law, page 393:
      The “little green men”—faces covered, wearing unmarked olive uniforms, speaking Russian and using Russian weapons—have played a significant role in both the occupation of Crimea and the civil war in eastern Ukraine.196
  4. Reasonably large in number or amount.
  5. (statistics) Having a low probability of occurring by chance (for example, having high correlation and thus likely to be related).

Usage notesEdit

  • This word may be ambiguous in some situations. In formal writing, care should be taken with comments such as "the difference is significant," because it is not clear without contextual clues whether significant modifies the fact that there is a difference ("notable"), or the difference itself ("large in number or amount"). In some such situations, large and other synonyms may be used in its place.



Related termsEdit



significant (plural significants)

  1. That which has significance; a sign; a token; a symbol.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Wordsworth to this entry?)

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for significant in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)




  1. present participle of significar




  1. third-person plural present active indicative of significō