fig·ure | \ˈfi-gyər, British and often US ˈfi-gər\

Definition of figure 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a number symbol : numeral, digit

b figures plural : arithmetical calculations good at figures

c : a written or printed character

d : value especially as expressed in numbers : sum, price sold at a low figure

e figures plural : digits representing an amount (as of money earned or points scored) made six figures last year a score in double figures

2a : a geometric form (such as a line, triangle, or sphere) especially when considered as a set of geometric elements (such as points) in space of a given number of dimensions a square is a plane figure

b : bodily shape or form especially of a person a slender figure

c : an object noticeable only as a shape or form figures moving in the dusk

3a : the graphic representation of a form especially of a person or geometric entity a figure of a girl with pigtails

b : a diagram or pictorial illustration of textual matter figures that illustrate various moves in chess

4 : a person, thing, or action representative of another Adam … who is the figure of him who was to come — Romans 5:14 (King James Version)

5a : figure of speech Find the similes and other figures in the poem.

b : an intentional deviation from the ordinary form or syntactical relation of words

6 : the form of a syllogism with respect to the relative position of the middle term

7 : an often repetitive pattern or design in a manufactured article (such as cloth) or natural product (such as wood) a polka-dot figure

8 : appearance made : impression produced the couple cut quite a figure

9a : a series of movements in a dance Bowing to your partner is one of the figures in square dancing.

b : an outline representation of a form traced by a series of evolutions (as with skates on an ice surface or by an airplane in the air)

10 : a prominent personality : personage great figures of history

11 : a short coherent group of notes or chords that may constitute part of a phrase, theme, or composition


figured; figuring\ˈfi-gyə-riŋ, ˈfi-g(ə-)riŋ \

Definition of figure (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to represent by or as if by a figure or outline

2 : to decorate with a pattern also : to write figures over or under (the bass) in order to indicate the accompanying chords

3 : to indicate or represent by numerals

4a : calculate

b : conclude, decide figured there was no use in further effort also : assume figure it will rain

c : regard, consider

d : to appear likely figures to win

intransitive verb

1a : to be or appear important or conspicuous

b : to be involved or implicated figured in a robbery

2 : to perform a figure in dancing

4 : to seem rational, normal, or expected that figures

5 : to make sense of something used interjectionally in the phrase go figure to suggest that something is surprising or perplexing why do they think women will buy this lie? Go figure— Ellen Bravo

figure on

1 : to take into consideration figuring on the extra income

2 : to rely on

3 : plan I figure on going into town

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Other Words from figure


figurer \ˈfi-g(y)ər-ər \ noun

Examples of figure in a Sentence


Are you sure of your figures? I came up with a very different figure. No precise figures are available yet. The company had yearly sales figures of half a million units. We could barely make out some figures moving in the mist. The vase is decorated with figures of birds and fish. The walls of the cave are covered with drawings of human and animal figures. a collection of bronze figures


“They lost.” “I figured as much.” She figures to finish by noon. The debate over tax rates figured prominently in the last election.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Inspired by a series of revolutionary figures from across the African continent, the combs pay tribute to icons of feminine power. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "Byredo’s New Keepsake Combs Pay Tribute to Africa’s Beloved Queens," 13 July 2018 When the dust settled, dozens of media figures, celebrities and athletes saw their following emaciated. Katherine Fominykh,, "Former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis lost about half his followers in Twitter's fake account purge," 13 July 2018 The Falwell case ended with a landmark decision supporting the right to publish parodies of public figures. Cincinnati Enquirer, "Read more from this Project," 13 July 2018 The Krokos case seems unlikely to be an isolated incident, especially given that the DEA had a seven-figure contract with Hacking Team, as first reported by Motherboard in 2015. Brian Barrett, WIRED, "How the US Government Secretly Sold 'Spy Phones' to Suspects," 13 July 2018 The five lithographs were abstract depictions of famous literary figures, including Shakespeare, done in vibrant brushstrokes. Daniel Miller,, "Five Picassos went missing from the L.A. Times. What happened to them?," 12 July 2018 All of those figures slotted in the middle of the seven lines mentioned. Matthew Defranks,, "Does it matter who Panthers center Aleksander Barkov's linemates are?," 6 July 2018 The 13 stories in Some Trick are full of this kind of figure, so much so that the book comes to read like a disguised confession. Adam Kirsch, The Atlantic, "The Anguished Comedy of Helen DeWitt," 25 June 2018 At the four early voting sites in Harford, 9,561 voters checked in over the eight days, 6.7 percent of those eligible to vote in the primary, according to local and state board of elections figures. David Anderson, The Aegis, "Harford voters still have lots at stake in Tuesday's primary election," 25 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

According to myth, the Maori people arrived in New Zealand riding the back of a whale; today, whales figure prominently in Maori art and stories. Michael Price, Science | AAAS, "Ancient seafarers may have hunted whales around the world," 10 July 2018 Collis figures his son will be 28 years old when he is released. Mac Engel, star-telegram, "A parent's pain over his imprisoned football star son," 10 July 2018 With high school, the travel teams that take up his summer, a lighter fall schedule of games, and winter training, Duff figures he is involved in some baseball activity for at least 250 days a year. Sam Donnellon,, "Elbow injuries - and surgery - affect high school pitchers more than anyone else," 9 July 2018 The Texas Rangers and Houston Astros figured this out first. Ryan Divish, The Seattle Times, "Twitter mailbag: Will Felix Hernandez pitch in the postseason if the Mariners make it? Cano to first base? And Magnum P.I.?," 9 July 2018 Authorities figure the boys are anywhere between 600 and 1,000 yards down, and their lateral location is just as uncertain. Jake Maxwell Watts, WSJ, "What Lies Beneath? Vague Mapping Complicates Thai Cave Rescue," 8 July 2018 Natalie Evers figured her husband could spread Brooks' story a lot farther through his job, which takes him to Europe and Asia for several days every month. Maureen C. Gilmer, Indianapolis Star, "Carmel boy got his angel wings; now a UPS pilot flies the world with his favorite toy," 1 July 2018 The three founders figured regular people shouldn’t have to miss out on the positive investment performance for classic cars, which, according to Petrozzo, has moved up and to the right for years. Fortune, "Can't Afford a Ferrari? How About Buying a Share for $80," 29 June 2018 As pop culture figures yourself, what were some moments that meant a lot to you?, "IRL Besties Jonathan Van Ness & Margaret Cho Tell Us Their Best Pride Stories," 15 June 2018

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

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First Known Use of figure


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for figure


Middle English, "shape, form, likeness, symbol, design, written character," borrowed from Anglo-French, borrowed from Latin figūra "shape, form, outward appearance, likeness, nonliteral form of speech," from fig-, variant stem of fingere "to mold, fashion, make a likeness of, pretend to be" + -ūra -ure — more at feign


Middle English figuren "to shape, represent symbolically, prefigure," borrowed from Anglo-French figurer, borrowed from Latin figūrāre "to shape, form, make a likeness of, represent," verbal derivative of figūra "shape, figure entry 1"

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Statistics for figure

Last Updated

19 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for figure

The first known use of figure was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for figure



English Language Learners Definition of figure

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a symbol that represents a number

: a value that is expressed in numbers

: a person or animal that can be seen only as a shape or outline



English Language Learners Definition of figure (Entry 2 of 2)

: to expect or think (something)

: to understand or find (something, such as a reason) by thinking

: to appear likely to do something


fig·ure | \ˈfi-gyər \

Kids Definition of figure

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a symbol (as 1, 2, 3) that stands for a number : numeral

2 figures plural : arithmetic sense 2 She has a good head for figures.

3 : value or price expressed in figures The painting sold for a high figure.

4 : the shape or outline of something or someone I'll never forget that tall, lonely figure standing on the sea wall.— Theodore Taylor, The Cay

5 : the shape of the body especially of a person a slender figure

6 : an illustration in a printed text

7 : pattern entry 1 sense 1 cloth with red figures

8 : a well-known or important person


figured; figuring

Kids Definition of figure (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : calculate sense 1 Can you figure the cost?

2 : believe sense 4, decide I figured we'd win.

figure on

1 : to make plans based on Figure on 20 guests.

2 : to rely on

3 : to have in mind I figured on going home.

figure out

1 : to discover or solve by thinking I figured out how to do this.

2 : to find a solution for Can you figure out these math problems?


fig·ure | \ˈfig-yər, British & often US ˈfig-ər\

Medical Definition of figure 

1 : bodily shape or form especially of a person a slender figure

2a : the graphic representation of a form especially of a person

b : a diagram or pictorial illustration of textual matter

3 : a person who is representative of or serves as a psychological substitute for someone or something else — see father figure

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Comments on figure

What made you want to look up figure? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a state of commotion or excitement

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