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

Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images Sweeney has been a key figure here. Andrew Prokop, Vox, "Democrats won 6 more state governments. New Jersey shows what they can do.," 21 Nov. 2018 Melania Trump has been a figure of sympathy, at least in this space, lauded for her grace, elegance and stoicism. Peggy Noonan, WSJ, "Melania’s Misstep and Michelle’s Mystery," 15 Nov. 2018 The founder of Bridebook, Hamish Shephard, helped estimate the potential costs of Princess Eugenie's royal wedding for the Daily Mail, and the initial $2.5 million figure has already skyrocketed. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Princess Eugenie's Royal Wedding Is Costing More Than We Initially Thought," 22 Sep. 2018 Plus, CarbonPro is bound to be a pricey option (the exact figure hasn’t been announced yet) just to shave 62 lbs. and have the coolest bed on the block. Andrew Moseman, Popular Mechanics, "2019 GMC Sierra: The Truck That Tried to Reinvent the Tailgate," 27 Aug. 2018 Not okay to talk about people that are not quasi-public figures, and that pretty rapidly meant we ... Eric Johnson, Recode, "Glassdoor CEO Robert Hohman explains why reviews with sexual harassment allegations don’t get removed," 15 Aug. 2018 Palin isn't the only notable figure to be wrapped up in Cohen's prank storm. Evan Real, The Hollywood Reporter, "Sarah Palin Reveals Details of Sacha Baron Cohen Showtime Interview," 13 July 2018 Authorities have acknowledged killing more than 4,200 drug suspects who resisted arrest, AFP reports, but rights groups say the real number is at least triple that figure. Casey Quackenbush, Time, "Sri Lanka Will Start Hanging Its Drug Dealers to 'Replicate the Success of Philippines'," 12 July 2018 Dee, 89, has been the more public figure, given his athletic profile. Mike Anthony,, "Mike Anthony: The Bond Of Dee And Ginny Rowe Was The Bond For Countless Communities, A UConn Family," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Around the time of Luis’ death, Julia was starting at Columbia University and figured New York would be a good place to get in touch with her possibly Jewish roots. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "Julia Salazar, the socialist politician accused of lying about her past, explained," 7 Sep. 2018 Joining a community With his background in stick and pokes, Hobrecker figured a machine would be a faster way to tattoo. Devon Abelman, Allure, "Brooklyn Tattooer Mars Hobrecker on Why Tattoos Don't Have to Have Meaning," 26 July 2018 Such studies can’t tell whether an impaired prefrontal cortex causes aggression or vice versa, so the Penn study, a registered clinical trial, tried to figure that out. Sharon Begley, STAT, "Can zapping people’s brains reduce violence? Controversial study sees potential," 2 July 2018 Sweeney figured Oldham would be excited to hear about Rubin’s enthusiasm. Zach Baron, GQ, "Will Oldham, Matt Sweeney, and Rick Rubin Talk ‘Superwolf’ As the Cult Album Finally Hits Streaming Services," 28 June 2018 Kilimnik figured prominently in December, when Mueller accused Manafort of improperly commenting on his case in public. David Voreacos,, "Mueller Plays Hardball With Manafort, Sending a Message to Others," 5 June 2018 But the Reds have to figure a way to get Senzel in the lineup. John Fay,, "Reds Beat Blog: It's time to revisit Bailey-bullpen plan," 15 June 2018 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

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

30 Nov 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).


to move with a clumsy heavy tread

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