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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The $700 billion figure is on the higher end of public estimates of what is plausible, and those larger estimates assume sustained efforts and a deterrent effect of tougher enforcement. Richard Rubin, WSJ, "Biden to Seek $80 Billion to Bolster IRS, Tax Enforcement," 27 Apr. 2021 Above the main bank of windows out front is a large 3-D fiberglass reproduction of the chrome colored Greyhound figure. William Thornton |, al, "Birmingham’s Greyhound bus terminal returning to its 1950 glory: ‘There’s history here’," 27 Apr. 2021 His second son, Alessandro (who married into the Colonna), became the dominant figure among the four siblings, lavishing pious donations on prominent Roman churches for repairs and remodelings, always in strict neoclassical style. Ingrid D. Rowland, The New York Review of Books, "Light in the Palazzo," 27 Apr. 2021 Given their single figure majority, that could mean big trouble for Democrats. Stephen Collinson, CNN, "The Trump Republican circus gears up for another tour," 27 Apr. 2021 The longshot’s best career speed figure came in a win on a sloppy track in the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes on Dec. 5. Jon Hale, The Courier-Journal, "Which Kentucky Derby 2021 horses are the best mudders?," 27 Apr. 2021 Discover Financial’s total revenues of $11.1 billion for the full year 2020 were 3% lower than the 2019 figure. Trefis Team, Forbes, "Discover Financial Stock To Miss The Earnings Estimates In Q1?," 20 Apr. 2021 Meanwhile, 1,233 people are hospitalized in Maryland with COVID-19, seven fewer than the figure reported Sunday. Bob Blubaugh,, "Carroll County sees potential drop in weekly COVID-19 case totals; health department aligns with state vaccine eligibility protocols," 12 Apr. 2021 As of Saturday, the daily count was up to nearly 69,000, and the weekly average was 19% higher than the figure two weeks earlier. Apoorva Mandavilli And Benjamin Mueller, Star Tribune, "Virus variants threaten to draw out the pandemic, scientists say," 3 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Phoenix has found a winning formula and established a rotation, but Smith had a chance to earn minutes when Williams was trying to figure it all out. Duane Rankin, The Arizona Republic, "Phoenix Suns: How far along should rookie Jalen Smith be at this point in season?," 19 Apr. 2021 The researchers figure this number to be in the neighborhood of around 20,000 post-juvenile T. rexes. Mike Wehner, BGR, "New study estimates shocking number of T. rexes in Earth’s history," 17 Apr. 2021 March Madness usually happens in high school basketball with playoffs and state championships, but in California, the only madness has been trying to figure a way to get started during the coronavirus pandemic. Eric Sondheimer Columnist, Los Angeles Times, "St. John Bosco outlasts Windward, but the big win is just playing basketball again," 30 Mar. 2021 That night and into the early morning hours, the OSU coach staff huddled, trying to figure how to make something of the 2020-21 season. oregonlive, "Oregon State sharpshooter Jarod Lucas finds a home on defense, and Beavers are thriving because of it," 24 Mar. 2021 This was two teams from two different leagues and two different parts of the country just trying to figure one another out for a good chunk of the game. Tom Noie, The Indianapolis Star, "Anthony Polite opens up for Florida State in not-sot-polite trouncing of Colorado," 23 Mar. 2021 While starters Michael Paredes and Troy Melton have been fixtures atop the staring rotation, the Aztecs still are trying to figure things out in Game 3. San Diego Union-Tribune, "College baseball weekend: Aztecs win third straight conference series," 21 Mar. 2021 Don't second guess your abilities because everyone is genuinely just trying to figure it out. Jennifer "jay" Palumbo, Forbes, "How Two Female Entrepreneurs Managed To Grow Their Business During Covid-19," 12 Mar. 2021 Studios are trying to figure that out, and now Paramount has added yet another variable into the equation. Frank Pallotta, CNN, "How long should movies be in theaters before streaming? Hollywood is trying to find out," 28 Feb. 2021

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 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Figure.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for figure



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

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