fig·​u·​ra·​tion ˌfi-g(y)ə-ˈrā-shən How to pronounce figuration (audio)
: the act or process of creating or providing a figure
: an act or instance of representation in figures and shapes
cubism was explained as a synthesis of colored figurations of objectsJanet Flanner
: ornamentation of a musical passage by using decorative and usually repetitive figures

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web For the last decade or so, things have been very focused on younger artists and emerging art and figuration. Degen Pener, The Hollywood Reporter, 16 Feb. 2023 His crib sheet has come in for its fair share of tweaking and critiquing down the decades, but that sense of the Cubist function—input figuration, output abstraction—still holds sway. Susan Tallman, The New York Review of Books, 29 Dec. 2022 Beyond the Veil of the Mythical Super Woman, the exhibition’s power lies consistently in portraiture and figuration. Dallas News, 6 May 2022 The self became a glorious figuration. Jason Parham, Los Angeles Times, 16 Sep. 2021 The totemic figure fluidly blends abstraction and figuration, guiding our gaze to the center of the canvas and leading us into Móyòsóré Martins’ complex narrative. Natasha Gural, Forbes, 7 Mar. 2023 Avery had studied with AbEx luminaries like Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman, but rejected abstraction for minimal figuration and landscape. Globe Staff,, 1 Dec. 2022 For three decades, Brown has steeped herself in the canon of Western painting (Rubens, Picasso, de Kooning), while also pushing her medium forward, in gestural canvases of ruthless beauty which hover between abstraction and figuration. Andrea K. Scott, The New Yorker, 3 Mar. 2023 It’s not possible because this is a response to thousands years of white figuration, and there will be other movements that derive from that. Stephanie Sporn, Harper's BAZAAR, 8 Feb. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'figuration.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near figuration

Cite this Entry

“Figuration.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jun. 2023.

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