fig·​ure | \ ˈfi-gyər How to pronounce figure (audio) , 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 How to pronounce figuring (audio) , 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
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

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 perplexingwhy 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 How to pronounce figurer (audio) \ noun

Examples of figure in a Sentence

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun That figure includes 1,057 classified as probable cases. Robert Higgs, cleveland, "Cleveland confirms 25 new cases of COVID-10 coronavirus, no new deaths: Thursday update," 9 Oct. 2020 That figure currently stands at 57%, according to the company. Parija Kavilanz, CNN, "H&M will let people convert old clothing items into new ones at Stockholm store," 8 Oct. 2020 Less than 3% of those confirmed to have the virus in the state have died, with that figure exceeding 8% for those at least 50 years old. Nathan Ruiz,, "Maryland’s coronavirus hospitalizations surpass 400 for first time since August," 8 Oct. 2020 That figure amounts to about 5% of the company's workforce, says Armstrong, who added that the final number could be slightly higher in light of ongoing negotiations with some workers. Jeff John Roberts, Fortune, "Coinbase sees 5% of employees depart in wake of politics controversy," 8 Oct. 2020 That figure includes any medical care during the hospital stay, such as an emergency room visit that led to admission or drugs provided by the hospital. Sarah Kliff, New York Times, "How Much Would Trump’s Coronavirus Treatment Cost Most Americans?," 7 Oct. 2020 This year that figure reached 205 in the same period. Amy Martyn, oregonlive, "17 deaths related to methanol-spiked hand sanitizer but FDA limited in actions," 6 Oct. 2020 And a quarter mentioned that they'd been discouraged because of their ethnicity or gender—but that figure reached 50 percent in the United States. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "In a pandemic-driven world, trust in science is rising," 6 Oct. 2020 That figure may continue to rise as the city and schools expand mobile testing on school grounds. Rebecca Lurye,, "Hartford schools will ‘very likely’ shift to mix of online and in-person learning Oct. 19 as COVID-19 cases rise in the city," 6 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Now, Nagy would prefer if the world outside Halas Hall learns who is starting at the same time the Lions figure it out at Ford Field. Brad Biggs,, "Column: Neither Mitch Trubisky nor Nick Foles has stepped forward in the Bears quarterback competition, and Matt Nagy plans to keep his decision a secret from the Lions. Is it gamesmanship, or is the coach having a tough time picking a winner?," 29 Aug. 2020 Thus, an individual may not connect the dots between their current symptoms and their previous drinking, nor do physicians always figure it out, says Kemal Canlar, founder of Carrie Arnold, National Geographic, "Tainted sanitizers and bootleg booze are poisoning people," 19 Aug. 2020 So there is a bit of wistfulness but determination to figure things out in both the album and book. Lilah Ramzi, Vogue, "Lana Del Rey Gave Us a Preview Of Her New Poetry Book," 25 Sep. 2020 Reddit threads, Facebook pages, and other online support groups have proliferated as a resource both for people recovering from the disease and the scientists trying to figure it out. Eve Sneider, Wired, "More Covid Vaccines in Phase III, New Risk Calculators, and More," 25 Sep. 2020 Donald Glover’s gorgeous and lyrical dramedy follows Earn, an aspiring music manager trying to facilitate his cousin’s burgeoning rap career, figure things out with his on-again off-again girlfriend, raise his daughter and just kind of … hatch. Margaret Lyons, New York Times, "I Watched ‘Fleabag.’ I Watched ‘Insecure.’ What’s Next?," 22 Sep. 2020 Players have had a lot of time to figure things out over these last several months, and not playing will redirect that energy even more. Joseph Goodman |, al, "Unified voices of college football players signal historic moment," 10 Aug. 2020 Like Maddon, Ross also is trying to give Kimbrel every chance to figure things out in the ninth inning. Paul Sullivan,, "Column: Cubs manager David Ross is on a roll, but these 2 ‘lingering’ issues still need to be addressed," 5 Aug. 2020 Black, however, cautioned that Shaw still has time to build up arm strength and figure things out over his next six or seven appearances. Patrick Saunders, The Denver Post, "Rockies’ Nolan Arenado: No sit-down meeting with GM Jeff Bridich is not a big deal," 3 Mar. 2020

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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Time Traveler for figure

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for figure

Last Updated

14 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Figure.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for figure


How to pronounce figure (audio)

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 How to pronounce figure (audio) \

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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