Definition of semaphore in English:


Pronunciation /ˈseməˌfôr/ /ˈsɛməˌfɔr/

Translate semaphore into Spanish


  • 1A system of sending messages by holding the arms or two flags or poles in certain positions according to an alphabetic code.

    • ‘if you learn semaphore or the Morse code, you'll have a fun way to send messages’
    1. 1.1An apparatus for sending messages by semaphore, consisting of an upright with movable parts.
      • ‘the room was long enough to need a semaphore to signal from one end to the other’
    2. 1.2A set of gestures intended to convey a message.
      • ‘I saw Edward jumping up and down, performing an elaborate semaphore with his hat’

transitive verb

[with object]
  • Send (a message) by semaphore or by signals resembling semaphore.

    ‘Josh stands facing the rear and semaphoring the driver's intentions’
    • ‘One could say the word ‘red’ aloud, or semaphore it from a cliff, or send it in Morse code, or write the French word ‘rouge’ on a blackboard, or point to a color chip.’
    • ‘He semaphores his designerlyness by wearing flouncy shirts and exuding a faint whiff of camp.’
    • ‘I'm speaking of Kelly's movie personality, as semaphored by his body language, and perhaps as filtered not by the age that he emerged from but by the one that followed him.’
    • ‘The only part that seemed alive was the eyes, bright blue - too blue - and in constant motion, so that they seemed to be semaphoring some sort of secret coded message: first all blue, then milky white, then blue again.’
    • ‘He does so, prompting the linesman to semaphore the word ‘offside’ with his arresting flag.’


Early 19th century (denoting a signaling apparatus): from French sémaphore, formed irregularly from Greek sēma ‘sign’ + -phoros.