signal

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mixed signal

A signal, message, or communication that has, or is interpreted as having, multiple, ambiguous, or contradictory meanings. (Often plural.) I keep getting these mixed signals from my ex-girlfriend. I can't tell if she just wants to be friends, or if she's interested in getting back together. I just think it sends something of a mixed signal to be advertising a new production assistant position right after we went through a round of layoffs.
See also: mixed, signal

get (a) mixed signal(s)

To receive a signal, message, or communication that has, or seems to have, multiple, ambiguous, or contradictory meanings. I keep getting these mixed signals from my ex-girlfriend. I can't tell if she just wants to be friends, or if she's interested in getting back together. I've just been getting a mixed signal from my boss lately about what he thinks of my performance so far.
See also: get, mixed

send (a) mixed signal(s)

To communicate something that has, or seems to have, multiple, ambiguous, or contradictory meanings. My ex-girlfriend has accused me of sending mixed signals about our relationship, as if I'm hinting I want to get back together with her. I just think it sends something of a mixed signal to be advertising a new production assistant position right after we went through a round of layoffs.
See also: mixed, send

get (one's) signals crossed

To have a misunderstanding or miscommunication with someone else. I'm sorry I'm late, I thought we were getting here at 8—we must have gotten our signals crossed. My mom and I got our signals crossed, and now there's no one here to babysit the kids.
See also: crosse, get, signal

bell, book, and candle things that are miraculous or that signal that something

unusual or bizarre may soon happen. (Alluding originally to the items used when performing the rite of excommunication from the Roman Catholic Church.) Look, I can't work miracles! Do you expect me to show up at your house with bell, book, and candle, and make everything right? You have to take charge of your own destiny! On the top shelf of the tiny used-book store, Jim saw a bell, book, and candle sitting in a row, and he knew he was going to find some very interesting reading material.
See also: and, candle, signal, thing

signal for someone

to make a sign for someone to come. I signaled for the waiter and got the check. Ted signaled for the parking lot attendant.
See also: signal

signal for something

to make a sign that something should be done. I caught the waiter's eye and signaled for the check. The director signaled for applause.
See also: signal

signal (to) someone (to do something)

[for someone] to give someone a command or instruction using a signal. The traffic cop signaled me to stop. The state trooper signaled the driver to pull over to the side of the road.

send a signal

to do something that is likely to influence someone's attitudes or behavior send a message The people in Pennsylvania sent a signal in this election that they wanted health-care reform. Making polluters pay to recycle old electronics products sends a strong signal to the companies to change the way they do business.
Usage notes: said about actions whether they are intentional or not
See also: send, signal

smoke signals

a sign that something is probably going to happen All the smoke signals from Downing Street indicate that the taxpayer will have to pay up again. Conflicting smoke signals are coming from the the peace talks, and it is impossible to say how they are going.
See also: signal, smoke
References in classic literature ?
At his superior's cough Bududreen had signalled silently to the men within the enclosure, and a moment later six savage lascars crept stealthily to his side.
Then the Minerva, running past for Tulagi, was signalled to send a boat, and the three prisoners were carried away to prison to await trial.
The officers looked in the direction indicated, and by the help of their glasses saw that the object signalled had the appearance of one of those buoys which are used to mark the passages of bays or rivers.
He signalled with his eyes to Flora towards the door of the state-room fitted specially to receive Mr.
On the stroke of ten he took off his boots and signalled to me to do the same.
I had brought the customary liquor glasses, but Wolf Larsen frowned, shook his head, and signalled with his hands for me to bring the tumblers.