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

Synonyms for pattern

Synonyms: Noun

design, figure, motif, motive

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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


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

Those job shortfalls would be part of a pattern already emerging in Wisconsin. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Wisconsin Foxconn Manufacturing Plant May Not Happen After All," 30 Jan. 2019 The lawsuit says the surveillance was part of a pattern of spying on reporters during the Obama administration to crack down on leaks. Denise Lavoie, The Seattle Times, "Appeals court to hear case of reporter alleging surveillance," 28 Jan. 2019 And our retreat, in some ways, was a microcosm, of travel patterns from across California. Alissa Walker, Curbed, "Getting around the Bay Area with Chanell Fletcher," 21 Dec. 2018 Some are arranged to literally simulate lightsaber battles, and others seem scored for sheer manual dexterity, full of wide-ranging, rapid-fire patterns. Adi Robertson, The Verge, "Why Beat Saber is my game of the year," 18 Dec. 2018 This is the kind of pattern that can enable a culture of corporate harassment, in miniature. Constance Grady, Vox, "Eliza Dushku was harassed at CBS. The report suggests the network’s problems go deep.," 14 Dec. 2018 Thanks to expensive-looking fabrics, exciting patterns, and interesting shades, there are tons of ways to make any suit feel fun and just right for you. Hannah Miller, Seventeen, "How to Pair Cool Sneakers with Your Favorite Holiday Party Outfits," 27 Nov. 2018 There are also peel-and-stick removable wallpapers available in three of the collection's patterns: Slate Poppy Corsica, Marigold A G T Stripe, and Lucha. Brittney Morgan, House Beautiful, "Get Ready To Obsess Over Christene Barberich's New Home Collection With The Inside," 18 Oct. 2018 For someone who seems to prefer simple styles, Camilla is clearly a fan of polka dots, and has worn a fair share of the pattern over the years. Kara Thompson, Town & Country, "Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall Sat Courtside at Wimbledon Today," 11 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Buy Now Pierre Louis Mascia patterned T-shirt Pierre Louis Mascia is a brand that elevates everyday silhouettes into truly special pieces and this fine mixed print tee is a perfect case in point. The Editors Of Gq, GQ, "Where To Buy Everything in the April Issue of GQ," 20 Mar. 2018 My friend and coworker, Shannon Galati, patterned the design so the godets of the cape would match the godets of my dress, perfectly covering and balancing the train. Allix Cott, Harper's BAZAAR, "A Sleek Cape in the Desert: What Happens When a Bridal Designer Weds," 26 Apr. 2017 Dubbed 'Modern Voyage,' the collection will be overseen by Lands' End, and will be all about sharp tailoring, patterned shirts and scarves, and, unsurprisingly, comfort. Condé Nast Traveler, "The Most Stylish Flight Attendant Uniforms," 15 Oct. 2018 And the kicks were just as good: Each of the singers wore a unique pair, from patterned high-tops to yellow-laced athletic sneakers. Avery Matera, Teen Vogue, "BTS Wore Coordinated Printed Suits on Good Morning America," 26 Sep. 2018 In the revealing outfit, which definitely looks like something Kim Kardashian would wear, Kendall pairs patterned sheer tights with the bodysuit, which has a high neckline, and is also cut high on her hips. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kendall Jenner Wears a Skintight Latex Bodysuit and Looks Totally Flawless," 28 July 2018 Getty Images Kate wore a more understated, black and white polka dot patterned dress on Saturday, while Meghan wore a blue and white striped Ralph Lauren shirt and white culottes. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Kate Middleton Wore a Canary Yellow Dolce & Gabbana Dress at Wimbledon with Prince William," 15 July 2018 The Duchess wore a blue and white patterned Oscar de la Renta gown for the occasion. Maggie Maloney, Town & Country, "Meghan Markle Looked Stunning in Givenchy at Princess Eugenie's Wedding," 12 Oct. 2018 Images of London punks with heavy eyeliner were printed onto vests and scarves (adorned further with ring piercings through the fabric), and one-sleeve tops got a cosy update as patterned knit jumpers., "Frat Boys Are The Hot New Trend According To Raf Simons' Runway," 21 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

Noun and Verb

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

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Statistics for pattern

Last Updated

12 Feb 2019

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

Comments on pattern

What made you want to look up pattern? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


excited commotion or publicity

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