Sign, mark, token, badge, note, symptom can denote a sensible and usually visible indication by means of which something not outwardly apparent or obvious is made known or revealed.
Sign is the most comprehensive of these terms, being referable to a symbol (see also CHARACTER 1 ) or a symbolic device or act or to a visible or sensible manifestation of a mood, a mental or physical state, or a quality of character or to a trace or vestige of someone or something or to objective evidence that serves as a presage or foretoken and concretely to a placard, board, tablet, or card that serves to identify, announce, or direct.
Mark (see also CHARACTER 1 ) may be preferred to sign when the distinguishing or revealing indication is thought of as something impressed upon a thing or inherently characteristic of it, often in contrast to something outwardly apparent or displayed.
Concretely also mark is applied either (1) to some visible trace (as a scar or a stain or a track) left upon a thing or (2) to something that is affixed in order to distinguish, identify, or label a particular thing or to indicate its ownership.
Token (see also PLEDGE ) can replace sign and also mark except in their specific concrete applications when the sensible indication serves as a proof of or is given as evidence of the actual existence of something that has no physical existence.
Badge designates a piece of metal or a ribbon carrying an inscription or emblem and worn upon the person as a token of one’s membership in a society or as a sign of one’s office, employment, or function.
In extended use badge often is employed in place of sign, mark, or token when it is thought of in reference to a class, a group, a category of persons, or as a distinctive feature of their dress, their appearance, or their character.
Note usually means a distinguishing or dominant mark or characteristic; it differs from mark, its closest synonym, in suggesting something emitted or given out by a thing, rather than something impressed upon that thing.
Note may be used in place of mark for a characteristic that seems to emanate from a thing that strikes one as true or authentic and therefore is the test of a similar thing’s truth, genuineness, or authoritativeness.
Symptom can apply to any of the physical or mental changes from the normal which can be interpreted as evidence of disease, but in medical use it is commonly restricted to the subjective evidences of disease primarily apparent to the sufferer and is then opposed to sign, which is applied to the objective evidences of abnormality that are primarily determined by tests and instruments.
In extended use the term tends to follow popular rather than professional medical use and is applicable to an outward indication of an inner change (as in an institution, a state, or the body politic) or to an external phenomenon that may be interpreted as the result of some internal condition (as a weakness, defect, or disturbance).