Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

show - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

verb     show pronunciation in British English
Word Forms
present tense
present participleshowing
past tenseshowed
past participleshown
  1. 1
    [transitive] to prove that something exists or is true

    The study shows an increase in the disease among the elderly.

    show (that):

    The test results show that he could not have committed the murder.

    show what/where/why etc:

    Accidents like this show what can happen when drivers are not alert.

    be shown to do something:

    Smoking has been shown to increase the risk of getting lung cancer.

    as shown by/in something:

    As has been shown by our study, young people are less likely to vote.

    show someone/something to be something:

    The drug has shown itself to be an effective treatment for depression.

  2. 2
    [transitive] to give information that you can see on a printed thing such as a map or photograph
    show something by something:

    The temperature is shown on the diagram by a red line.

    show something as something:

    Chemical changes are shown on the chart as small circles.

    1. b.
      to give information that you can see on a piece of equipment that measures something

      The dial showed that the pressure had fallen to a dangerously low level.

  3. 3
    [transitive] to behave in a way that allows people to know your feelings, opinions, or personal qualities

    Try to show an interest in the customer’s needs.

    men who find it difficult to show their emotions

    show your appreciation/gratitude:

    The gift is intended to show our appreciation for all your hard work.

    show (that):

    The government has shown that it is not willing to compromise.

    show what/how/why etc:

    They have shown what they think of our suggestion.

    1. a.
      [intransitive] if your feelings or thoughts show, people know what you are feeling or thinking from the way that you behave
  4. 4
    [transitive] to let someone see something
    show something to someone:

    This is the first time the painting has been shown to the public.

    show someone something:

    I couldn’t wait to show him the letter.

    show something to advantage (=make it appear as good or impressive as possible):

    The display is designed to show the dresses to advantage.

  5. 5
    [transitive] to lead someone somewhere, for example because they do not know where to go
    show someone to something:

    Let me show you to your room.

    show someone into something:

    She showed me into a sunny room where two children were playing.

  6. 6
    [transitive] to give someone instructions or an explanation
    show someone how/what/which etc:

    A young girl showed me how to operate the machine.

    show someone something:

    Can you show me the right way to do this?

    1. a.
      to tell someone where something is
      show someone where:

      She showed me where I could leave my luggage.

  7. 7
    [intransitive/transitive] if something shows, people can see it or notice it

    They managed to fix it so that the break wouldn’t show.

    She had chosen a colour that really showed the dirt.

    and it shows (=used for saying that something is very obvious):

    They used the cheapest materials they could find, and it shows.

  8. 8
    [intransitive/transitive] if someone shows a film or a television programme, or if it is showing, people can see it

    It was the first time the film was shown on television.

    Now showing at a cinema near you!

  9. 9
    [transitive] to put something such as a work of art, an animal, or a plant in an exhibition or competition

    Her work was first shown at a gallery in Munich.

    I’ve been showing my dogs for over ten years.

  10. 10



    show up

    [intransitive] informal to arrive in a place where people are expecting you

    We didn’t think Austin would show.

  11. From our crowdsourced Open Dictionary
    that will/that'll show someone said of an ​action that you ​intend as a ​punishment for someone who has done something that you disapprove of

    The next time he use my credit card without permission, I'll tell him off for that. That'll show him!

    Submitted by Caleb Judy from United States on 05/12/2015
  12. From our crowdsourced Open Dictionary
    show a bit of ankle/leg journalism especially in politics, to reveal a small part of your intentions in order to attract support, without actually committing yourself to doing anything

    He saw that the Gove had been showing a bit of political ankle on Europe – the kind of manoeuvring, incidentally, which Gove accused both Nick Clegg and Vince Cable of doing on the same programme, the cad.

    Submitted from United Kingdom on 14/05/2013
  • Facebook
  • Twitter


a lifestyle focussing on simple pleasures such as comfort and cosiness in the home, and spending time with friends and family

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


a form of location that involves the underwater detonation of a bomb which causes sound waves that are picked up by ships

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play