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 Buttigieg, 38, declared victory early on Monday night based on his campaign's internal figures, peeving his rivals. Emily Larsen, Washington Examiner, "Nail-biter: Sanders and Buttigieg neck-and-neck in Iowa with 97% of precincts reporting," 6 Feb. 2020 Douglas also remained a colorful and outspoken figure, even after a 1996 stroke impaired his speech -- mounting a one-man show in its aftermath. Brian Lowry, CNN, "Kirk Douglas, acclaimed actor, dead at 103," 5 Feb. 2020 The gulf between those two figures, $120 million, is the same amount that the Red Sox are paying their superb shortstop, Xander Bogaerts, over the next six years. David Waldstein, New York Times, "With Mookie Betts Trade, Red Sox Stick to an Unpopular Plan," 5 Feb. 2020 The billionaire is spending nine figures, the majority on TV advertising, in a long shot bid to vault to the head of the field with a strong performance in the 16 contests held March 3. Chad Day, WSJ, "Iowa Democratic Caucuses Result? More Uncertainty," 4 Feb. 2020 The package garnered multiple bids with the deal, struck Friday night, almost hitting seven figures, a massive payday for the newbie writers. Borys Kit, The Hollywood Reporter, "Netflix Nabs Sci-Fi Spec Script 'Endurance' in Six-Figure Deal for Simon Kinberg to Produce (Exclusive)," 4 Feb. 2020 His heroes were not religious figures, but literary and political thinkers such as Marcel Proust, Franz Kafka, and Karl Marx. Hillel Italie,, "Eminent man of letters George Steiner dead at age 90," 4 Feb. 2020 Wyatt Russell has also joined the cast as John Walker (who, in the comics, was a shield-wielding, Captain America-type figure known as U.S. Agent). Devan Coggan,, "Disney+ drops surprise look at Loki, WandaVision, and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier," 3 Feb. 2020 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, by contrast, appeared on Fox News with Trump's favorite media figure, Sean Hannity, just as the impeachment trial was reaching the Senate and all but pledged his fealty to the White House. Chris Megerian, Anchorage Daily News, "Republicans who once scorned Trump rally to save his presidency," 2 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Ducks at Maple Leafs: Projected starting goalies Ryan Miller vs. Michael Hutchinson Miller figures to start Friday in Toronto with starter John Gibson playing Tuesday and Thursday and going past regulation time in both efforts. Esten Mclaren, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "Anaheim Ducks at Toronto Maple Leafs odds, picks and best bets," 7 Feb. 2020 Their attacks on the safety net—including the Trump administration’s efforts to cut Social Security benefits for the disabled—ought to figure largely in the messaging the eventual Democratic nominee takes into the general election. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, "Trump Has Never Looked More Comfortable as a Demagogue," 5 Feb. 2020 Here’s a little video of my progression learning how to figure skate for Spinning Out. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "Who is Serena From Netflix's "Spinning Out"?," 13 Jan. 2020 The 2020 Evolution XS figures to be another in that line. Tony Hansen, Outdoor Life, "The Hottest New Compound Hunting Bows for 2020," 10 Jan. 2020 The tough part of this category is figuring who to vote third. Los Angeles Times, "Racing! Eclipse Awards are around the corner," 2 Jan. 2020 But until then, states are figuring it out for themselves (California, Maine and Nevada already have). Polina Marinova, Fortune, "A VC Predicts Tech’s Top 10 Policy Fights of 2020," 9 Dec. 2019 So, steal-and-transition buckets – a PSU calling card – would figure to be under control. Marcus Mosher, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "Penn State at Michigan odds, picks and best bets," 22 Jan. 2020 While the number of those who are homeless decreased in Cleveland from 2018 to 2019, the number of those who are without shelter rose 26%, according to Cuyahoga County figures. Ginger Christ, cleveland, "Annual Homeless Stand Down event that aids Cleveland’s poor is set for Jan. 11," 5 Jan. 2020

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

9 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Figure.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

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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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