pat·​tern | \ ˈpa-tərn How to pronounce pattern (audio) \

Definition of pattern

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a form or model proposed for imitation : exemplar
2 : something designed or used as a model for making things a dressmaker's pattern
3 : an artistic, musical, literary, or mechanical design or form the geometrical pattern of the carpet the strict pattern of rhythm and rhyme for a sonnet— Gigi Marino
4 : a natural or chance configuration frost patterns the pattern of events
5 dated : a length of fabric sufficient for an article (as of clothing)
6a : the distribution of shrapnel, bombs on a target, or shot from a shotgun
b : the grouping made on a target by bullets
7 : a reliable sample of traits, acts, tendencies, or other observable characteristics of a person, group, or institution a behavior pattern spending patterns the prevailing pattern of speech
8a : the flight path prescribed for an airplane that is coming in for a landing
b : a prescribed route to be followed by a pass receiver in football
10 : a discernible coherent system based on the intended interrelationship of component parts foreign policy patterns
11 : frequent or widespread incidence a pattern of dissent a pattern of violence


patterned; patterning; patterns

Definition of pattern (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 dialectal, chiefly England
a : match
2 : to make, adapt, or fashion according to a pattern
3 : to furnish, adorn, or mark with a design

intransitive verb

: to form a pattern

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Other Words from pattern


patterned \ ˈpa-​tərnd How to pronounce patterned (audio) \ adjective
patternless adjective

Synonyms for pattern

Synonyms: Noun

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Choose the Right Synonym for pattern


model, example, pattern, exemplar, ideal mean someone or something set before one for guidance or imitation. model applies to something taken or proposed as worthy of imitation. a decor that is a model of good taste example applies to a person to be imitated or in some contexts on no account to be imitated but to be regarded as a warning. children tend to follow the example of their parents pattern suggests a clear and detailed archetype or prototype. American industry set a pattern for others to follow exemplar suggests either a faultless example to be emulated or a perfect typification. cited Joan of Arc as the exemplar of courage ideal implies the best possible exemplification either in reality or in conception. never found a job that matched his ideal

Examples of pattern in a Sentence

Noun The dishes have a floral pattern around the rim. The fabric comes in different colors and patterns. The rug is decorated with a geometric pattern. The shadows made a pattern of lines on the ground. They are studying behavior patterns among high-school students. Analysts are noticing different spending patterns by consumers. The trees followed a characteristic pattern of growth.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Our daily patterns are all off, so our circadian rhythms are too. New York Times, "6 Swipes for a Better Night’s Sleep," 15 May 2020 There are other things besides stress that can go into weird periods; significant weight loss or gain can stop your ovulation patterns. Taylyn Washington-harmon,, "Why Is My Period Late—Could Stress Be the Cause?," 14 May 2020 That can mess up their sleep patterns and induce unusual behavior. Robert Scheer, Indianapolis Star, "How coronavirus quarantine is changing life — and vet treatment — for your pet," 13 May 2020 My old pattern is to be kind of detached, to be avoidant of the present. Jia Tolentino, The New Yorker, "Perfume Genius Wants to Make You Feel Less Lonely," 12 May 2020 The more a child interacts with Moxie, the more sophisticated those interactions become as the robot learns to recognize the child’s face, and his or her speech patterns and developmental needs. Daniel Oberhaus, Wired, "Moxie Is the Robot Pal You Dreamed of as a Kid," 30 Apr. 2020 Their pacing pattern—fast start, slower middle, accelerate at the end—was also the same in both races. Alex Hutchinson, Outside Online, "Why Hard Exercise Feels Worse When You’re Alone," 26 Apr. 2020 Valve's representatives did not answer our questions about the lack of TF2 in this statement—or whether existing TF2 players should be concerned or change their play patterns in any way. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Valve confirms code leak for two online games [Updated]," 22 Apr. 2020 All around the world, people’s lives are being impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic—along with their typical sleep patterns. Amanat Khullar, Quartz, "Our sleep is linked to how we process coronavirus dread," 21 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The ground can be big or small, square or oblong, blank or patterned—and the choice restricts the pool of possible figures, by color and size and grain. Luc Sante, The New York Review of Books, "My Quarantine: The Calm of Collaging," 23 Apr. 2020 The camo-patterned, stainless-steel bottle not only holds 40 ounces but also doubles as a workout roller, ideal floor exercises and for stretching your calves, back, quads, and hamstrings. Outdoor Life, "Four reusable water bottles for next-level hydration," 13 Apr. 2020 The Claudina butterfly’s underwings are intricately patterned. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian Magazine, "The World’s Most Interesting Insects," 29 Apr. 2020 Across from the living room is a dining room that has patterned stone floors and a fireplace with an ornate mantel. Julie Lasky, New York Times, "$2 Million Homes in Pennsylvania, New York and New Orleans," 18 Mar. 2020 Shredded denim corsets, patterned midi dresses, oversized knits, and shrunken sweater vests were paired with iconic derby oxfords from Prada and signature Chanel slingbacks. Eliza Huber,, "If The Shoes At Eckhaus Latta Looked Familiar, Here’s Why," 13 Feb. 2020 Now, the art world is suddenly discovering and reveling in her surreal forms from the ’40s, patterned abstracts of the ’50s and confident depictions... Kelly Crow, WSJ, "Artist Luchita Hurtado Breaks Out at Age 99," 12 Feb. 2020 McCuscker’s chemical replacement for this requirement was retinoic acid, which the body makes from vitamin A. The chemical plays a role in setting up patterning in embryos and has long been known to pattern tissues during regeneration. Amber Dance, Smithsonian Magazine, "Some Salamanders Can Regrow Lost Body Parts. Could Humans One Day Do the Same?," 31 Jan. 2020 The event is patterned closely after bull riding, down to the lingo and scoring. John Maccormack,, "“Sheep wrecks,” hockey helmets and fistfuls of wool make “Mutton Bustin’” a rodeo crowd pleaser," 17 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pattern.' 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 pattern


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1586, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for pattern

Noun and Verb

Middle English patron, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin patronus

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Time Traveler for pattern

Time Traveler

The first known use of pattern was in the 14th century

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Statistics for pattern

Last Updated

20 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pattern.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for pattern


How to pronounce pattern (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of pattern

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a repeated form or design especially that is used to decorate something
: the regular and repeated way in which something happens or is done
: something that happens in a regular and repeated way



English Language Learners Definition of pattern (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make or design (something) so that it is similar to something else of the same type
: to decorate or mark (something) with a design : to form a pattern on (something)


pat·​tern | \ ˈpa-tərn How to pronounce pattern (audio) \

Kids Definition of pattern

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the form or figures used in decoration : design The cloth has a fancy pattern.
2 : a model or guide for making something Mom used a pattern to make the dress.
3 : the regular and repeated way in which something is done Their behavior has fallen into a pattern.
4 : something worth copying : model

Other Words from pattern

patterned \ -​tərnd \ adjective


patterned; patterning

Kids Definition of pattern (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to make or develop by following an example The building was patterned on a Greek temple.
2 : to have a design He wore a tie patterned with flags.


pat·​tern | \ ˈpat-ərn How to pronounce pattern (audio) \

Medical Definition of pattern

1 : a model for making a mold used to form a casting
2 : a reliable sample of traits, acts, tendencies, or other observable characteristics of a person, group, or institution patterns of behavior
3 : an established mode of behavior or cluster of mental attitudes, beliefs, and values that are held in common by members of a group

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pat·​tern | \ ˈpa-tərn How to pronounce pattern (audio) \

Legal Definition of pattern

1 : a form or model proposed for imitation
2 : a recognizably consistent series of related acts found a pattern of discrimination in that company a pattern of racketeering activity

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More from Merriam-Webster on pattern

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pattern

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pattern

Spanish Central: Translation of pattern

Nglish: Translation of pattern for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pattern for Arabic Speakers

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