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 figure (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

Other Words from figure


figurer \ ˈfi-​g(y)ər-​ər How to pronounce figure (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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun And yet, the final estimates do not include new policy changes that could add even more to this figure. Preston Cooper, Forbes, 1 Aug. 2022 That figure does not include units that were purchased by individual residents or obtained by residents through other free programs. oregonlive, 31 July 2022 The death toll currently sits at 25, according to a Saturday morning update from Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, and that figure is expected to rise as water recedes and more information becomes available. The Courier-Journal, 30 July 2022 Yet none of it fully captures what an important figure Alex Jones has become, even as he’s been systematically deplatformed. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 30 July 2022 Other studies put that figure at closer to a quarter of students. Megan Leonhardt, Fortune, 30 July 2022 That figure represents a 17 percent increase over a week earlier, but is much less robust than the spike from 8.1 million to 15.5 million observed from July 13 to July 20. Paul Sisson, San Diego Union-Tribune, 29 July 2022 Latin figures represent about 10% of the figure count in Orlando. Jennifer A. Marcial Ocasio, Orlando Sentinel, 29 July 2022 When repeated tests on the same individual are not counted, 34% of the tests administered yielded positive results, a slight dip from last week’s 36.3% figure. Paighten Harkins, The Salt Lake Tribune, 28 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb To help her figure it out, Fielder plants her in a large house in a small Oregon town, fills the house with surveillance cameras, and hires child actors—from babies to teen-agers—to portray Angela’s potential child. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 30 July 2022 Managers figure about two out of every 10 dipnetted Copper River reds was born at the Gulkana Hatchery. Ned Rozell, Anchorage Daily News, 30 July 2022 But just having a pitcher of his caliber back in the rotation for even three to four innings to start would figure to provide a big boost to a rotation that's been pitching two regular starters short since early July. Todd Rosiak, Journal Sentinel, 30 July 2022 But unlike the Nets, who can try to hold on to Durant and contend for a title, the Nats don’t figure to be in the mix anytime while Soto is still under contract. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, 28 July 2022 Yet the human heroes still figure into the action, not to mention the comedy. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 26 July 2022 Zito bet on Maurice to help this team figure it out. Dave Hyde, Sun Sentinel, 23 June 2022 Try to figure them out with the clues before moving forward. Kris Holt, Forbes, 17 June 2022 At least money is on the way to help cities figure it out. Matt Simon, Wired, 24 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

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"

Learn More About figure

Time Traveler for figure

Time Traveler

The first known use of figure was in the 13th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near figure



figure caster

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for figure

Last Updated

4 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Figure.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for figure


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

More from Merriam-Webster on figure

Nglish: Translation of figure for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of figure for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about figure


Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!