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When talking about crosswalks, we generally say they are lit (lighted if you prefer) or unlit when they have a traffic signal on them in America. However, traffic signal seems to me like a general term that may be applied to any sort of signal on the road. The flashing amber lights on some school speed limits, construction warnings, road closings, stoplights, etc. are all traffic signals.

Is there a specific term for the type of traffic signal used at crosswalks? For example,

I was going to cross the street but the /blank/ turned red, warning me not to cross.

Many people, especially those in big cities, ignore /blank/ and cross the road when they want to.

Are there terms for the other types of signals I listed?

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  • 3
    Crossing light...
    – Jim
    Feb 26, 2016 at 19:01
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    To older generations it's the walk/wait light generally, where the wait light turns on to tell you not to walk. However, "WAIT" (vs "DON'T WALK") hasn't been used on new pedestrian signals for 30 years, and most instances of "WALK" were replaced with the walking icon (and "DON'T WALK" with the hand signalling "stop") 10-20 years ago. So now I suppose it's just a pedestrian signal.
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 26, 2016 at 20:25
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    And if a traffic cop catches you crossing against the light, I guess you're caught red-handed. Feb 27, 2016 at 2:55
  • @HotLicks, would you submit your comment as an answer please? Feb 27, 2016 at 6:29

4 Answers 4

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To older generations it's the walk/wait light generally, where the wait light turns on to tell you not to walk. However, "WAIT" (vs "DON'T WALK") hasn't been used on new pedestrian signals for 30 years, and most instances of "WALK" were replaced with the walking icon (and "DON'T WALK" with the hand signalling "stop") 10-20 years ago. So now I suppose it's just a pedestrian signal. (How boring.)

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  • I think you're a bit off with the times. In NY City, at least, "wait" signs were long gone at least 40 or 50 years ago. It also seems that the hand signs began appearing more like 30 years ago, though I am not as sure of that.
    – phoog
    Feb 27, 2016 at 16:30
  • @phoog - Well, it takes time for all that new fancy stuff to make its way to the hinterlands.
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 27, 2016 at 19:00
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These are know as pedestrian crossing signals or just pedestrian signals. You may go here to find the types that the state of New York uses. If you have an extra $150 or so, you may buy one of your own on eBay, where you'll find that they're also called Walk/Don't Walk signs.

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  • But that sounds so pedestrian.
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 27, 2016 at 2:55
  • The NYS website does not include the one that counts down the number of seconds you have left to cross the street. Feb 27, 2016 at 2:56
  • And if you happen to be visiting the UK, a country with very busy roads, these are the different crossings mentioned in The Highway Code
    – WS2
    Feb 27, 2016 at 9:44
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By all rights, it is a traffic light. One can say pedestrian traffic light if there's a need to differentiate, though this is moving farther away from the one-word search.

Going on the information on Wikipedia, there is no single word to describe or refer to this specific light.

Traffic lights, also known as traffic signals, traffic lamps, traffic semaphore, signal lights, stop lights, and (in technical parlance) traffic control signals,[1] are signalling devices positioned at road intersections, pedestrian crossings, and other locations to control conflicting flows of traffic.

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Consider, crosswalk signal.

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