figure

1 of 2

noun

fig·​ure ˈfi-gyər How to pronounce figure (audio)
 British and often US  ˈfi-gər
1
a
: 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
2
a
: 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
3
a
: 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)
5
a
: 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
9
a
: 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

figure

2 of 2

verb

figured; figuring ˈfi-gyə-riŋ How to pronounce figure (audio)
ˈfi-g(ə-)riŋ

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
4
a
b
: conclude, decide
figured there was no use in further effort
also : assume
figure it will rain
d
: to appear likely
figures to win

intransitive verb

1
a
: to be or appear important or conspicuous
b
: to be involved or implicated
figured in a robbery
2
: to perform a figure in dancing
3
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
figurer noun
Phrases
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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Example Sentences

Noun 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 Verb “They lost.” “I figured as much.” She figures to finish by noon. The debate over tax rates figured prominently in the last election. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Former President Donald Trump continues to be an influential figure for Republican voters, even as others in his party suggested his endorsements were sometimes jeopardizing their general election prospects. Hannah Demissie, ABC News, 14 Sep. 2022 Still in frequent use in various forms today, that formula tries to reach a ballpark figure for the number of alien societies that could exist within our galaxy and that might be trying to message us. WIRED, 11 Sep. 2022 Fares typically drop in August as summer travel wanes, said Hayley Berg, a Hopper analyst, though the decline last month represented more than the typical figure for this time of year. Jon Hilsenrath, WSJ, 11 Sep. 2022 Her eldest son, Charles, seems an unlikely figure for the British Shintoism that built up around his mother. Tom Mctague, The Atlantic, 8 Sep. 2022 Sadr is opposed by a rival Shiite grouping, marshaled by former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki — a figure notorious in Washington for his alleged corruption and shoddy governance that enabled the rise of the Islamic State in 2014. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, 31 Aug. 2022 An extra week of iPhone 14 should help beat last year’s billion figure for the period. Chris Smith, BGR, 22 Aug. 2022 That income figure for the typical high school graduate was $28,000 when Mr. Itzkowitz aggregated the federal data. New York Times, 20 Aug. 2022 Neither American nor Boom provided a dollar figure for the deposit. Eric Tegler, Forbes, 18 Aug. 2022
Verb
Those cheers don’t figure to go away anytime soon, however, after the Steelers failed to pick up a single first down during their final two possessions while squandering a chance to tie or take the lead. Will Graves, Hartford Courant, 18 Sep. 2022 Clinical trials of these newest formulations are still being conducted, so their data did not figure into the go-ahead decision. Mariana Lenharo, Scientific American, 16 Sep. 2022 Everyone will adjust, everyone will recalibrate, the coaching staff will figure it out. Josh Newman, The Salt Lake Tribune, 3 Aug. 2022 Perhaps the fate of IU's season will be decided by how quickly — or if — the Hoosiers can figure that out. Tyler Tachman, The Indianapolis Star, 7 Sep. 2022 Twitter’s lack of language capabilities figure prominently in the Alethea report. Cat Zakrzewski, Washington Post, 4 Sep. 2022 Two of those transfers — sophomore quarterback Jayden de Laura (Washington State) and junior wide receiver Jacob Cowing (UTEP) — figure prominently here. San Diego Union-Tribune, 2 Sep. 2022 The immediate ramifications for the Rockets are that the Thunder now figure to be much worse than projected, and they—like the Rockets—were already expected to be bad this upcoming season. Chron, 29 Aug. 2022 Cal’s finances figure to become even more strained in the years to come given the defections of the L.A. teams unless the Pac-12 holders can find a way to fortify themselves, possibly with new members. Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times, 17 Aug. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

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

Verb

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"

First Known Use

Noun

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

Verb

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near figure

Cite this Entry

“Figure.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/figure. Accessed 30 Sep. 2022.

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Kids Definition

figure 1 of 2

noun

fig·​ure ˈfi-gyər How to pronounce figure (audio)
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

figure

2 of 2

verb

figured; figuring
1
: calculate sense 1
Can you figure the cost?
2
: believe sense 4, decide
I figured we'd win.

Medical Definition

figure

noun

fig·​ure
ˈfig-yər, British & often US ˈfig-ər
1
: bodily shape or form especially of a person
a slender figure
2
a
: 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

More from Merriam-Webster on figure

Last Updated: 21 Sep 2022

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