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
4a : calculate
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 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 How to pronounce figurer (audio) \ 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

Moreover, the headline growth figure for 2018 of 1.4 million barrels a day, or 1.5%, is pretty robust. Washington Post, "Oil’s 2019 Weakness Has Roots in 2018’s Strength," 18 Sep. 2019 Hamza bin Laden was an appealing figure for a younger generation of Islamist militancy, terror experts have said, as Al Qaeda competes with the Islamic State for visibility and recruits., "Hamza bin Laden, the son of Osama bin Laden and once-possible heir to the Al Qaeda terrorist network, was killed in a US counterterror operation in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, President Trump said Saturday — an announcement that comes more than a month after officials suggested he was killed.," 15 Sep. 2019 The Polk County assessor’s office had included in the tax base figures for the Bondurant-Farrar school district a fourth building at Facebook’s giant data center in Altoona. USA TODAY, "Disney surprise, foreign feral hogs, porous pavement: News from around our 50 states," 13 Sep. 2019 Gomez Related content: The Roast of Alec Baldwin HOW/WHEN & WHERE TO WATCH: 10 p.m. on Comedy Central A working actor and public figure for nearly 40 years now, there are plenty of jokes to be made at Alec Baldwin’s expense. Ew Staff,, "What to Watch this weekend: Alec Baldwin gets roasted on Comedy Central," 13 Sep. 2019 His strikes during the international break have now seen Sterling reach double figures for the Three Lions, although six of his 10 goals with England have come during 2019 alone., "Raheem Sterling Set for Pepsi Endorsement Alongside Lionel Messi & Paul Pogba," 12 Sep. 2019 Downloads and video views for the former increased, while figures for the latter remained mostly unchanged. Billboard Japan, Billboard, "King & Prince Debut at No. 1, King Gnu Returns to Top 10 on Japan Hot 100," 4 Sep. 2019 Walston could not provide figures for how much this long-term shutdown is costing the business. Erin B. Logan,, "After gas explosion wrecks a Columbia business complex, Pub Dog tries to move forward," 30 Aug. 2019 Accurate figures for Moldova are hard to reach because up to 70% of alcohol consumed is homemade wine, says Olga Penina, a lecturer of Public Health at Chisinau’s State University of Medicine and Pharmacy. Madeline Roache / Puhoi, Time, "'You’re Not a Person if You Don’t Drink.' How This Tiny European Country Developed the World's Worst Drinking Problem," 29 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Researchers figured this out by looking at data from more than 245,000 healthy adults ages 30 to 79 years old in New Zealand. Jen Christensen, CNN, "Medical guidelines say daily aspirin is too risky for most healthy people. A new study says some can benefit," 16 Sep. 2019 After school Many families figure that once their kids enter kindergarten, stay-at-home moms and dads can easily return to work without straining the family budget to pay for child care. Leah Ruppanner, The Conversation, "Free preschool, longer school days and affordable day care help keep moms in the paid workforce," 12 Sep. 2019 Of further note: Reigning Division I champion Westview figures to again count on sophomore Divya Saravanan. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Prep girls tennis: players to watch, season storylines," 9 Sep. 2019 His players figured it out near the end of last season, finishing 2-6 overall and 1-5 in the Express League, good for sixth place in the seven-team league. Daily Pilot, "High School Football Preview: Brethren Christian ready for 8-man game in 2019," 6 Sep. 2019 BURBANK Burbank will figure to have plenty of depth, as there will be about eight players on the squad under the direction of coach Branko Sevic. Burbank Leader, "Girls’ Golf Preview: Rivalry expected to hit new high between Burroughs, Burbank," 4 Sep. 2019 Some aid groups figured nearly half of the homes on the two islands were either destroyed or severely damaged. New York Times, "Bahamas Stunned as Hurricane Recedes: ‘It’s Like a Bomb Went Off’," 3 Sep. 2019 Historically, pop culture has figured prominently in Hong Kong’s protest culture. Clarissa Pharr, Quartz, "Hong Kong protestors are using pop culture memes to stay visible to the world," 1 Sep. 2019 Concert venues have figured this out a long time ago. Adam Lashinsky, Fortune, "What Apple Can Teach Your Bank—Data Sheet," 27 Aug. 2019

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

5 Oct 2019

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 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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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 fake an opponent out of position

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