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 Include first and last names for double-figure scorers. Ben Thomas |, al, "Coastal Tourney Highlights: VMI signee Trey Bonham breaks UMS-Wright’s men’s scoring record," 27 Nov. 2019 The Blazers’ starting five combined to score 88 points in the win over the Bulls and each player reached double-figures. Joe Freeman, oregonlive, "Portland Trail Blazers vs Oklahoma City Thunder: Game preview, odds, TV channel, how to watch live stream online," 26 Nov. 2019 With the busiest travel season of the year still ahead, both of these figures are on track to reach all-time highs by the end of 2019, Blumenthal said. Kenneth R. Gosselin,, "With airlines set to collect record revenue from fees, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal presses for new limits," 26 Nov. 2019 Even tech workers with six-figure salaries are having trouble affording housing in the Bay Area. Michelle Cheng, Quartz at Work, "A Silicon Valley recruiting startup is offering tech workers $10,000 to leave the Bay Area," 25 Nov. 2019 The price of higher education, even at some of the country’s best colleges, is nowhere near comparable to that in the United States, where the average yearly costs for both public and private four-year universities are in the five-figure range. Mélissa Godin, New York Times, "Student Sets Himself on Fire, Highlighting Broader Distress in France," 24 Nov. 2019 Four players — Jones, Evans, Shook and Liz Dixon — had double-figure points with Elizabeth Balogun finishing with nine. David J. Kim, The Courier-Journal, "Louisville women's basketball beats Boise State behind Cards' 'fantastic' offensive day," 24 Nov. 2019 This initial television campaign will feature 60-second ads — a sign of a massive 2020 Bloomberg campaign budget that could easily stretch well into the nine-figure range., "Michael R. Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, bought at least $30 million in television ads Friday ahead of an expected Democratic run for president, a formidable show of financial force in presidential politics.," 23 Nov. 2019 At the center of it all is McClain, who retired as a high-profile ComEd lobbyist in 2016 but continued collecting six-figure payments from the company. Jason Meisner,, "‘Keep all of this confidential’: How a powerful ComEd lobbyist lined up contracts for a disgraced ex-aide to Speaker Michael Madigan and why federal authorities are interested," 21 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Andy Polo is another player under contract who doesn’t seem to figure prominently in the Timbers plans. Caitlin Murray, Pro Soccer USA, "Breaking down the Portland Timbers roster heading into 2020," 22 Nov. 2019 For people born in China who invested in May, that could be 16.5 years; for India, 8.4 years, according to State Department figures. Chris Fuchs, NBC News, "Cost for foreign investors to buy green card to grow from $500,000 to $900,000," 18 Nov. 2019 Evidently, the founders figured that an incongruous or disaffected member would simply leave — there is a mechanism for that (Article 13). Jay Nordlinger, National Review, "Turkey, NATO, and a Shifting World," 7 Nov. 2019 Job growth so far this year has averaged just 167,000 a month, down from an average of 223,000 in 2018, according to Labor Department figures. Josh Boak,, "US added a solid 128,000 jobs in October despite GM strike," 1 Nov. 2019 Job growth so far this year has averaged 167,000 a month, down from an average of 223,000 in 2018, according to Labor Department figures. Bani Sapra, Twin Cities, "US economy defies threats with a solid job gain for October," 1 Nov. 2019 The Girl from Taylor wanted to join the military but figured her post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis would be a red flag to recruiters and that her asthma might be a liability., "She was prostituting, pregnant, doing drugs by 14. Now, Taylor girl fights to save her own life.," 1 Nov. 2019 More than 3,000 people have moved out of Sonoma County since the 2017 blazes, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures. Kevin Fagan,, "Fires, fears, outages — the new normal of autumn," 27 Oct. 2019 The Nazis figured onscreen (played by Sam Rockwell, Stephen Merchant, Rebel Wilson, and other familiar-ish faces) are depicted as utterly buffoonish. John Semley, The New Republic, "JoJo Rabbit’s Satire Fail," 17 Oct. 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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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

30 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Figure.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 10 December 2019.

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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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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 state or do over again or repeatedly

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