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 More important, the behavior of others profoundly shapes our energy-use and spending patterns, in both cases aggravating already-profound threats to the environment. K.n.c., The Economist, "Open Future We can harness peer pressure to uphold social values," 7 Feb. 2020 Our weather pattern looks quiet for the next couple of days. Dallas News, "A warm up for the weekend," 6 Feb. 2020 Its epidemiology, its transmission patterns, who the vulnerable populations really are. Helen Branswell, STAT, "In effort to develop coronavirus vaccine, outbreak expert sees ‘hardest problem’ of his career," 6 Feb. 2020 Are my self-destructive patterns and unexamined cycles of codependency the popular Jim Carrey character The Mask? Judy Berman, Time, "How BoJack Horseman's Brilliant Series Finale Subverts the Typical Hollywood Ending," 30 Jan. 2020 Sharks were reputed to have changed their migration patterns to take advantage of the new source of food. Brian T. Allen, National Review, "To the 1619 Project: Use More Art, Less Fake History," 25 Jan. 2020 Due to the fact that major investors like BlackRock own a large number of shares, changes in its voting patterns can make a substantial difference. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Major investment firm to prioritize sustainability, back off coal," 14 Jan. 2020 Instead the Epic Games Store kicked off 2020 by giving away three games the first week (Darksiders, Darksiders II, and Steep), before returning to its standard one-game-a-week pattern with Sundered this week and Horace next. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "Epic's weekly free game giveaways will keep going throughout 2020," 14 Jan. 2020 In comparison, this winter has been relatively mild with drier patterns and higher average temperatures, said meteorologist Cory Behnke. Miriam Marini, Detroit Free Press, "Baby it's (not) cold outside: Remembering the 1978 blizzard during a warm winter," 25 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In a hand amputation, for example, cells from the left and right sides of the wrist might meet to correctly pattern and orient the new hand. Amber Dance, Smithsonian Magazine, "Some Salamanders Can Regrow Lost Body Parts. Could Humans One Day Do the Same?," 31 Jan. 2020 The silversmith repeated this cutting, layering, soldering, and hammering 36 times until the sheet was as luminous and irregularly patterned as the surface of the moon seen from the earth. Brian T. Allen, National Review, "The Winter Show’s Many Small Treasures," 28 Jan. 2020 Mossberg 835 The 12-gauge 835 hits turkeys hard, thanks to a 3½-inch chamber and a near 10-gauge bore that patterns heavy loads of shot very well. Phil Bourjaily, Field & Stream, "The 10 All-Time Best Turkey Guns," 3 Oct. 2019 One of the bird-like feathers, meanwhile, appears to have been patterned with dark bands. Rachel Fritts, Ars Technica, "Forgotten trove of fossil feathers belonged to tiny polar dinosaurs," 15 Jan. 2020 Bomber coats were the power statement of the season, padded and bulky in black leather over a three-button suit, or richly patterned in peacock blue and purple over shimmery green trousers. Washington Post, "DSquared2 fetes Milan Fashion’s 25 years with Sister Sledge," 10 Jan. 2020 Legend, 41, and Miles, who turns 2 in May, both wear blue patterned swim trunks and giant smiles on their faces. Ashley Boucher,, "Chrissy Teigen Shares Beachy Snap of John Legend and Miles Twinning on Vacation," 30 Dec. 2019 They are saturated with color, and many have wildly patterned backgrounds or surfaces that glitter with rhinestones or crystals. Carol Vogel, Town & Country, "The Rise and Rise of Mickalene Thomas," 3 Dec. 2019 Employing only graphite pencil and Bristol paper, Beltz produces elaborate patterned drawings that also dwell on the cosmic. Los Angeles Times, "Datebook: How L.A. photographer George Rodriguez chronicled every corner of the city," 17 Oct. 2019

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

12 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pattern.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Feb. 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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