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Spanish has several words that could be translated "sign" in English:

  • letrero
  • rótulo
  • señal
  • indicio
  • cartel
  • pancarta
  • seña

What are the differences between these words? In what situations can each be used?

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I was thinking of asking exactly this question - I never know which to choose, especially between rótulo and letrero. –  hippietrail Dec 2 '11 at 14:32
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1 Answer

letrero

enter image description here

rótulo

enter image description here

señal

enter image description here

cartel  

enter image description here

pancarta

enter image description here

"Indicio" means something like "clue", while "seña" has many meanings, the most usual is "gesture" (like waving a hand, or closing one eye), but also means "a particular characteristic" of someone or something, "a sign made to show a direction or to signal a place", and surprisingly (in some countries/regions) a payment made as a promise to buy (to prevent the seller changing the price or selling to somebody else).

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This is very good, but it would be even better if you could include several examples for each so we can see the semantic range. For instance I'm still having trouble with rótulo and letrero. –  hippietrail Dec 2 '11 at 14:39
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The photos are great examples, but I'm still curious exactly what each word can refer to. For example, the photos make it look like street signs are always either señal or cartel and not letrero or rótulo? –  jrdioko Dec 3 '11 at 21:30
    
@jrdioko There are a lot of local variations. I posted the meanings that I believe are more or less universal. –  belisarius Dec 4 '11 at 0:27
    
@hippie So perhaps [this is more useful than my answer](www.google.com/search?tbm=isch&q=letrero) –  belisarius Dec 4 '11 at 0:40
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@belisarius: I believe you need the "http://" to get the link to work right. –  jrdioko Dec 4 '11 at 3:58
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