figure

noun
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

figure

verb
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

Verb

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

In another tweet Wednesday, Trump pointed to a report from a conservative outlet about the Dayton shooter having supported liberal political figures. John Wagner, Anchorage Daily News, "Trump stays largely out of public view during Dayton visit; El Paso awaits his arrival," 7 Aug. 2019 Many social media users, public figures and news organizations noted that after the mosque attacks in New Zealand, that country’s government reacted swiftly, banning semiautomatic weapons within weeks. New York Times, "World Reacts to El Paso Shooting and the Hate That Fueled It," 6 Aug. 2019 Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images Leading Republican political figures have had a varied set of reactions to the mass shooting that killed 20 people in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday. Andrew Prokop, Vox, "From condemning “white terrorism” to condemning video games: Republican responses to El Paso shooting," 4 Aug. 2019 The letters marked the latest intervention by U.S. officials in a case that has commanded the attention of figures ranging from the president to Justin Bieber. Linda Givetash, NBC News, "U.S. warned Sweden of 'negative consequences' if ASAP Rocky wasn't released," 3 Aug. 2019 What would Buttigieg say about his own support of a public figure with a long history of bigotry? Seth Mandel, Twin Cities, "Seth Mandel: Al Sharpton is not a lifelong fighter for justice," 2 Aug. 2019 Of that figure, $1.1 million went into research specifically for osteosarcoma. Catie Wegman, sun-sentinel.com, "Ultra-marathoner and cancer advocate carries partner to Guinness record: ‘This isn’t hard. Chemo is hard.’," 2 Aug. 2019 The story used Applegate as an object lesson, showing how easily legitimate businessmen could get involved, purposely or accidentally, with Mafia figures. AZCentral.com, "Don Bolles files: Were the popular Hobo Joe's coffee shops connected to the Mafia?," 30 July 2019 According to Department of Health figures, at least 12 of the adult homes impacted by the court settlement have enough ALP beds to be exempt from Justice Center oversight. Joaquin Sapien, ProPublica, "After Failing Mentally Ill New Yorkers, Adult Homes Get Second Chance," 30 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

These societies had figured such things out centuries ago. David Holahan, USA TODAY, "'Gods of the Upper Air': How renegade anthropologists studied, celebrated 'the other'," 5 Aug. 2019 Sammy Watkins would figure to be the No. 2 receiver, but he gets injured every other week or so. Kevin Cusick, Twin Cities, "The Loop Fantasy Football Preview: The Rookies," 2 Aug. 2019 Davis Price figures to handle kickoffs for the third year in a row – although Stefanou hopes for a chance to win that job. Brian Howell, The Denver Post, "CU Buffs football position preview: Kicking game a strength for Buffs," 25 July 2019 The extent to which NASA is allowed by Washington, DC to reconcile its future exploration plans with the efficient models of modern-day launch businesses will figure heavily into determining the agency's relevancy in coming decades. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "The Greatest Leap, part 6: After Apollo, NASA still searching for an encore," 21 July 2019 Borghi still figures to be the lead back, but McIntosh gives the Cougars a bona fide No. 2 who should be able to spell Borghi the way Borghi spelled James Williams last season. oregonlive.com, "Oregon opponent early scouting report: Washington State," 17 July 2019 But after the 2017 discovery of board minutes from the early 1900s that listed a portrait of Robert E. Lee as a gift to the school, officials figured the school must be named for the Confederate general. Tawnell D. Hobbs, WSJ, "Don’t Want Your School to Be Named for a Confederate General? Find Someone Else Named Lee," 24 June 2019 Auburn Bo Nix, QB — A little bit of a curveball to start things off, as most people figure Joey Gatewood will be Auburn’s starter to begin the season based on a skill set that better fits Gus Malzahn’s offense. Creg Stephenson | Cstephenson@al.com, al, "AL.com All-Access: Give me your 2019 breakout players for Alabama, Auburn," 25 July 2019 The film’s Chinese distribution deal is in progress and the Chinese title of The Farewell translates directly to Don’t Tell Her. Nai Nai will probably figure it out from there. Shirley Li, The Atlantic, "When a Lie Becomes Your Breakout Film," 14 July 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

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

10 Aug 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 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

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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