pat·​tern | \ˈpa-tərn \

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

b : imitate

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 \ adjective
patternless adjective

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


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

But improvements may not have continued at the same pace during Pai's chairmanship simply because technology upgrade cycles follow their own pattern and aren't affected much by regulation, Wood said. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "Ajit Pai isn’t saying whether ISPs deliver the broadband speeds you pay for," 19 Nov. 2018 The focal point of the look is its accompanying pattern of shapes. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Bella Hadid Stars in Dior’s Halloween-Inspired Short Film," 18 Oct. 2018 Because of their skills, the store's employees actually revealed to them their markdown patterns. Taylor Mead, House Beautiful, "Here Are The Best Days To Shop At Target, Based On What You’re Looking For," 12 Oct. 2018 Get to know the characteristics of your ovulation and menstrual patterns. Pamela Tsigdinos, Marie Claire, "The Wild World of IVF, Explained," 1 Oct. 2018 Palm-size computers and intelligent phones continue to transform lives in ways large and small—from morning commutes to sleep patterns. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "9 High-Tech Facial Tools to Up Your Beauty Game This Season," 15 Sep. 2018 Smart Bed Having a perfect night's sleep is vital to overall health and people have been using smart wearables like Fitbit to track nightly sleeping patterns. Fox News, "10 smart devices you never knew about before now," 12 Sep. 2018 People are taking their passion for Pyrex to a whole new level—by getting their favorite patterns and pieces permanently tattooed on their skin. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "People Are Getting Tattoos Inspired by Their Grandmas’ Vintage Pyrex Patterns," 17 Aug. 2018 Their migration pattern follows that of the Chinook salmon, Millman notes, but has become more erratic with changes in the salmon population. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Pacific Northwest Orca Population Hits 30-Year-Low," 10 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Games like Microsoft’s Flight Simulator franchise, a favorite of computer desktop pilots for decades, are complex and realistic, rendering models of cockpits full of switches and instruments patterned after the real thing. Matt Day, The Seattle Times, "‘Video games’? Pilots wonder how plane thief learned to do aerial acrobatics," 13 Aug. 2018 Then there’s Lonzo Ball, who is a nerd in all the senses but grew up idolizing James (which is telling in a city that worships Kobe) and has in many ways patterned his pass-first approach to the game after him. Chris Gayomali, GQ, "The Upside of the Lakers," 2 July 2018 This is just my opinion, but to me, his band is what Hank Williams patterned the Drifting Cowboys after. Chuck Dauphin, Billboard, "How Eddy Arnold's Grandson Is Furthering the Country Great's Legacy," 17 May 2018 Eugenie looked radiant in a patterned one shoulder tunic over black leggings, and Brooksbank wore a navy suit with a yellow tie. Temi Adebowale, Town & Country, "A Definitive History of Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank's Relationship," 2 July 2018 Tiffany Haddish also hit the right notes in a metallic and patterned jumpsuit. Carolina Gonzales, Houston Chronicle, "Tiffany Haddish, Tina Fey turn up at the Tony Awards: Best and worst dressed celebrities," 10 June 2018 His Instagram story is filled with puppies, Drake references, and patterned short-sleeve button-down shirts., "Can We Start The Wills Reid For Bachelor Campaign Right Now?," 10 July 2018 There were a lot of oversized, blouse-like smocks teamed with fringed scarves, both of which came patterned in fadedly opaque florals. Luke Leitch, Vogue, "Male Patterned Boldness: Dolce & Gabbana’s Alta Sartoria Ode to Villa Carlotta," 9 July 2018 The salt therapy room contains about 3,000 pounds of Himalayan salt bricks that are vertically patterned on two opposing walls capping the room. Ethan May, Indianapolis Star, "Sitting in a room of salt is a new trend in Indianapolis. Here's how it works.," 29 June 2018

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


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


see pattern entry 1

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Statistics for pattern

Last Updated

3 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for pattern

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

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More Definitions for pattern



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 \

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 \

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 \

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pattern

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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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