figure

noun
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

figure

verb
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
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

Verb

figurer \ ˈfi-​g(y)ər-​ər \ 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

Yet these figures also show the vast extent of the challenge. Benjamin Wofford, Vox, "The midterms are already hacked. You just don’t know it yet.," 25 Oct. 2018 Natal planets in the Fourth House reveal an individual’s relationship with the maternal figure, as well as their unique outlook on domesticity. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "The 12 Astrological Houses: Interpreting Your Birth Chart Beyond the Zodiac," 6 Oct. 2018 From getting kidnapped in the middle of a corn maze to a dark, mysterious figure coming out from a tree, Sabrina will try to make her way out of certain spots in order to survive. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "6 Hidden Clues from the "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina" Trailer That You Probably Missed," 3 Oct. 2018 There are 33 million court cases pending in India, government figures show. Ashok Sharma, Fox News, "India chief justice's new decision strikes down adultery law," 28 Sep. 2018 Nyong'o joins the ranks of other public figures who have given up speech for a few days, including Oprah, Gisele, and Emma Watson. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "Lupita Nyong’o is the Latest Celebrity to Go on a Silent Retreat," 5 Feb. 2019 Other public figures also spoke up: This post has been updated. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Hollywood Supports Jussie Smollett Following Racist and Homophobic Attack," 29 Jan. 2019 Other public figures use the platform as a place to rant, or to shill for the highest bidder; Hathaway, on the other hand, does not in fact post anything herself. Elizabeth Holmes, Town & Country, "Anne Hathaway Is Nobody's Punching Bag," 8 Jan. 2019 Later appointments to Ambassador of the United Nations, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, envoy to China, and Director of Central Intelligence solidified Bush as a formidable political figure. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "George H.W. Bush Has Died at Age 94," 1 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Catching up on a few more questions in our latest Seahawks mailbag, including looking again at a topic that figures to dominate the offseason conversation — do the Seahawks run it too much at the wrong times? Bob Condotta, The Seattle Times, "Seahawks mailbag: Debating Seattle’s late-game offensive philosophy," 4 Feb. 2019 Leave it to Dua Lipa to figure her way around this style conundrum (staying warm while retaining a certain sultry edge, that is). Rachel Hahn, Vogue, "Dua Lipa Has the London Cool Girl Answer to Party Dressing in the Snow," 23 Jan. 2019 Jughead is the one who figures all of this out, because Archie is too busy living his best farm boy life to care, just shirtlessly slinging bales of hay and making bedroom eyes at Laurie. Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Betty's In Serious Trouble on This Week's Riverdale," 6 Dec. 2018 The small increase in unemployment — up from 3.8 percent in May — appears to be the result of more Americans searching for work, according to Labor Department figures released Friday. Washington Post, BostonGlobe.com, "US economy added 213,000 jobs in June as unemployment rose to 4 percent," 6 July 2018 To figure that out, Rosenbaum and her colleagues needed paternity data, which involves collecting poop. Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "Gorillas that are great with kids are also luckier in love," 18 Oct. 2018 While the plot meanders in the middle as the friends figure stuff out, the moody beginning and the satisfying climax make this a solid piece of surprising sci-fi. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, "Four hot novels for teens to dive into this summer vacation," 3 July 2018 The Royals figured now was as good a time as any for top prospect Adalberto Mondesi to make a play for the starting job at shortstop. Maria Torres, kansascity, "Royals longtime shortstop Alcides Escobar is a hit in first start as center fielder," 23 June 2018 After nearly two decades of futility, Eastern Michigan appears to have figured some things out. Matt Murschel, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Eastern Michigan steadily improves, is No. 85 in 2018 preseason college football rankings," 3 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

Noun

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

Verb

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

History and Etymology for figure

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"

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Learn More about figure

Statistics for figure

Last Updated

23 Feb 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

figure

noun

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

figure

verb

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

figure

noun
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

figure

verb
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?

figure

noun
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

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