1570s, "having or conveying a meaning," from Latin significantem (nominative significans), present participle of significare "make known, indicate" (see signify). Earlier in the same sense was significative; also significate (adj.) "indicated, signified"(early 15c.).
From 1590s as "serving as a sign or indication." Often "having a special or secret meaning," hence "important, weighty" (1761). Related: Significantly. The scientific significant figure is from 1680s. Significant other is attested by 1961, in psychology, "the most influential other person in the patient's world."
updated on October 24, 2022
Dictionary entries near significant