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Can "an act of protest" and "a sign of protest" be used interchangeably? Are there contexts where one of these phrases should be used, and not the other?

Also, are "act of protest" and "sign of protest", idioms? Are they synonymous to each other?

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closed as general reference by Kris, FumbleFingers, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者, jwpat7, kiamlaluno Apr 30 '12 at 17:18

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Do act and sign mean the same? Beyond that, it is of interest only to writersSE. Voting to close as not a real Q. – Kris Apr 30 '12 at 9:10
@Kris I would like to know if "act" and "sign", when combined with "of protest" may have a different meaning compared to when they appear individually. Are "act of protest" and "sign of protest", idioms? Are they synonymous to each other? (adding this in the question) – galacticninja Apr 30 '12 at 13:07
General Reference. Act and sign are different words with clearly different meanings, and there's no reason why "of protest" should affect things any more than "of desperation", or "of willpower", for example. – FumbleFingers Apr 30 '12 at 13:39
up vote 4 down vote accepted

I don't think so. The semantics are straight-forward here. An act of protest might be a riot or a march; a sign of protest might be a piece of political graffiti on a wall. The one is an act, or action; the other is a signifier or symbol. In many cases either expression may fit, given the context, but the meanings are not the same.

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thanks for the tidy-up, @JLG. – Brad Apr 30 '12 at 14:44

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