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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.
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.
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.
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.
send a signal
To emphasize or make a clear statement of one's position. We need to send a signal to these hostile nations that we will not compromise our values for fear of reprisal. The latest memo clearly sends a signal to certain people in the company that their days are numbered.
Indications that something is the case or is likely to happen. If the smoke signals are to be believed, a peace agreement could be signed by the end of the week. We're just awaiting smoke signals from the board of directors before we move on the expansion.
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.
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.
Smoke signals are signs or suggestions that something might be happening or going to happen. The smoke signals coming out of the White House suggest that the President will sign the treaty. Recent economic smoke signals would indicate that the economy began to pick up in May. Note: Smoke signals are columns of smoke which were used to send messages over long distances, for example by Native American tribes.