1. To show the way to or the direction of; point out: an arrow indicating north; indicated the right road by nodding toward it.
2. To serve as a sign, symptom, or token of; signify: “The cracking and booming of the ice indicate a change of temperature” (Henry David Thoreau).
3. To suggest or demonstrate the necessity, expedience, or advisability of: The symptoms indicate immediate surgery.
4. To state or express briefly: indicated his wishes in a letter; indicating her approval with a nod.
in′di·ca·to′ry (-kə-tôr′ē) adj.
Synonyms: indicate, attest, bespeak, betoken
These verbs mean to give grounds for supposing or inferring the existence or presence of something: a fever indicating illness; paintings that attest the artist’s genius; disorder that bespeaks negligence; melting snows that betoken spring floods.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
1. (may take a clause as object) to be or give a sign or symptom of; imply: cold hands indicate a warm heart.
2. to point out or show
3. (may take a clause as object) to state briefly; suggest: he indicated what his feelings were.
4. (of instruments) to show a reading of: the speedometer indicated 50 miles per hour.
5. (usually passive) to recommend or require: surgery seems to be indicated for this patient.
[C17: from Latin indicāre to point out, from in-2 + dicāre to proclaim; compare index]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
v.t. -cat•ed, -cat•ing.
1. to be a sign of; betoken: Snow indicates winter.
2. to point out or point to: to indicate a place on a map.
3. to demonstrate the conditions of.
4. to express minimally: indicated his disapproval with a frown.
5. to show or suggest the suitability or necessity of: The facts indicate a need for action.
Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
You can use indicate and show in a similar way when you are talking about evidence or the results of research.
Evidence indicates that the experiments were unsuccessful.
Research shows that doctors are working harder.
If you show an object to someone, you hold it up or give or take it to them, so that they can look at it. When show has this meaning, it always takes an indirect object. You can say ‘show someone something’ or ‘show something to someone.
I showed Ayeisha what I had written.
Show your drawing to the teacher.
‘Indicate’ is not usually used with this meaning.
Collins COBUILD English Usage © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 2004, 2011, 2012
Past participle: indicated
Collins English Verb Tables © HarperCollins Publishers 2011