a. Something serving as an indication, proof, or expression of something else; a sign: "His lifelong refusal to allow bigots to truly bother him was often considered, unfairly, a token of his weakness" (Jeremy Schaap).
b. Something that signifies or evidences authority, validity, or identity: The scepter is a token of regal status.
c. A specific instance of a phenomenon or a class of things, as of a linguistic feature in a sample of a person's speech, that can be isolated for study or analysis.
2. A person who is considered as representative of a social group, such as a lone individual or one of a small number of employees hired primarily to prevent an employer from being accused of discrimination.
3. A keepsake or souvenir.
4. A piece of stamped metal used as a substitute for currency: subway tokens.
a. A small electronic device issued to a user to serve as proof of identity, as for the purpose of accessing a network.
b. A piece of software that serves as proof of the user's identity.
tr.v. to·kened, to·ken·ing, to·kens
To betoken or symbolize; portend.
1. Done as an indication or pledge: a token payment.
a. Perfunctory; minimal: a token gesture of reconciliation; token resistance.
b. Being a product of tokenism; merely symbolic: refused to be the token woman on the committee.
by the same token
In like manner; similarly.
in token of
As an indication of: a ring given in token of love.
[Middle English, from Old English tācen; see deik- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.