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


  • IPA(key): /sɪɡˈnɪ.fɪ.kənt/
  • (file)


significant (comparative more significant, superlative most significant)

  1. Signifying something; carrying meaning.
    Synonym: meaningful
    a significant word or sound
    a significant look
    • 1614, Walter Ralegh [i.e., Walter Raleigh], The Historie of the World [], London: [] William Stansby for Walter Burre, [], OCLC 37026674, (please specify |book=1 to 5):
      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 notes[edit]

  • 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 certainty that there is any difference ("notable"), or the difference itself ("large in number or amount"). A baldness cure that reliably adds three hairs on average has a significant but small effect in research parlance, and there's a tendency for "significant" to find its way into advertising copy. In some such situations, large and other synonyms may be used in its place.



Related terms[edit]



significant (plural significants)

  1. That which has significance; a sign; a token; a symbol.





  1. present participle of significar




  1. third-person plural present active indicative of significō