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My dictionary lists the word 'signal' as an adjective, apart from its usual usage as a noun. Could someone provide me with examples for such a usage? Also, how popular is such an adjective?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

It means ‘notable, conspicuous; remarkable, striking’ and is in current, if not frequent, use. The OED’s most recent citation, dated 2000, is from the ‘New York Book Review’:

This gathering of data is a signal achievement.

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Between them, "signal achievement" and "signal accomplishment" have about 10,000 instances in Google Books for the past century. Not exactly "common" in such a vast corpus", but certainly not all that "rare" either. – FumbleFingers Mar 15 '12 at 16:37


Wherever and whenever it has been tried – including in the ultimate totalitarianism of Stalin’s Soviet Union – prohibition has proved to be a signal failure, causing not just sizeable revenue loss to the exchequer but also giving rise to an entrenched bootlegging mafia.

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protected by tchrist Aug 10 '14 at 17:08

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