fig·​u·​ra·​tion | \ ˌfi-g(y)ə-ˈrā-shən How to pronounce figuration (audio) \

Definition of figuration

1 : form, outline
2 : the act or process of creating or providing a figure
3 : an act or instance of representation in figures and shapes cubism was explained as a synthesis of colored figurations of objects— Janet Flanner
4 : ornamentation of a musical passage by using decorative and usually repetitive figures

Examples of figuration in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Some compositions are more figurative, but some are a mixture of abstraction and figuration. Duante Beddingfield, Detroit Free Press, 17 Dec. 2021 Currin blasted through Neo-Conceptualism, the cool of Commodity and Pictures Art, and changed what art about the body was by making it in a long-dead, non-modern figuration that had been relegated to the ash heap of academic art history. Jerry Saltz, Vulture, 12 Nov. 2021 Blanca's imagination wanders in the liminal space between abstraction and figuration. Kristen Shirley, Forbes, 14 Oct. 2021 For a while, his work toggled between abstraction and figuration, as if trying to chart a course between them, but the latter eventually won out. Thomas Meaney, The New Yorker, 27 Sep. 2021 The austere brown background was a haunting stylistic departure for Basquiat who layered text and image, abstraction, and figuration, into dense large-scale paintings that often repeated his signature skulls and crowns. Natasha Gural, Forbes, 30 Aug. 2021 Despite early influences, Close rejected abstraction in favor of figuration. CNN, 20 Aug. 2021 Avignon, toed the line between abstraction and figuration. Nora Mcgreevy, Smithsonian Magazine, 7 July 2021 The artist Kathleen Blackshear, for example, taught an art history class from a global point of view, alerting him to the different kinds of stylized figuration that flourished beyond Western art. Roberta Smith, New York Times, 20 June 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'figuration.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of figuration

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for figuration

Middle English figuracioun, borrowed from Latin figūrātiōn-, figūrātiō "process of forming, shape, representation," from figūrāre "to shape, make a likeness of, represent" + -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of verbal action — more at figure entry 2

Learn More About figuration

Time Traveler for figuration

Time Traveler

The first known use of figuration was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near figuration

figurate number



See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for figuration

Last Updated

8 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Figuration.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jan. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon


Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Flower Edition

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!