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
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 How to pronounce patterned (audio) \ 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

The same pattern was seen in 2015, when a slowdown in the Chinese economy led to a manufacturing slump. The Economist, "For how long can today’s global economic expansion last?," 12 July 2019 One way of solving the riddle of sleep is to investigate its origins, and a new study in the journal Nature involving zebrafish reveals that the pattern of sleep found in humans and many other animals evolved at least 450 million years ago. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Little, Transparent Fish Show Sleep Is at Least 450 Million Years Old," 12 July 2019 Some consumers, accustomed to traditional automatic transmissions, found the shifting pattern of the new, fuel-efficient automatic transmission unusual and raised questions with their dealers. Detroit Free Press, "Here's how Ford responded to Focus, Fiesta transmission investigation," 11 July 2019 The patterns of increasing violence and hate are algorithmically detected rather than personally observed, which helps shut down skeptics. Emma Grey Ellis, WIRED, "Reddit’s ‘Manosphere’ and the Challenge of Quantifying Hate," 10 July 2019 But given the migration patterns of the past two years, the one-month dip also could just as easily reverse. Nick Miroff, Anchorage Daily News, "Border arrests drop as Mexico crackdown appears to cut crossings," 10 July 2019 Using a smartphone, users scan the patterns to create their own songs. Diana Budds, Curbed, "How design is being upended by the climate crisis," 9 July 2019 Repeat the same line pattern along one edge of the belt and tie over the broadcloth at the waist. Rebekah Lowin, Country Living, "How to Make a DIY Moana Halloween Costume," 9 July 2019 As IndyStar interviewed renters, a pattern emerged: Tenants at first dismissed questions about potential problems and then matter-of-factly described maddening difficulties. Ryan Martin, Indianapolis Star, "'They’re just patching it up': Tenants lack electricity, water in homes Joe Hogsett calls 'transformed'," 1 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Kaliyev, who turns 18 on Wednesday, patterns his game after Rick Nash. Curtis Zupke,, "Kings get a scorer, Ducks defensive help during second day of NHL draft," 22 June 2019 Unfortunately, the rest of us don't quite have an invitation to share in the Kardashian-Jenner closet of dreams, but brands including ASOS, Forever 21, and Nordstrom have cow patterned options for every budget. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Khloé Kardashian Wore a Cow Print Swimsuit Similar to One Worn by Kylie Jenner," 19 May 2019 Savannah and Seth looked very grown up for the occasion, wearing a sequined dress and patterned suit, respectively. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "Kelly Clarkson and Her Husband Made a Rare Red Carpet Appearance With All of Their Kids," 29 Apr. 2019 Its scent is patterned after that of two different types of roses, while camellia oil makes the hair shine. The Editors, WSJ, "WSJ. Magazine’s Valentine’s Day Gift Guide," 11 Feb. 2019 Then, as the Raptors advanced through the playoffs, the team patterned itself after him. Matthew De Silva, Quartz at Work, "In praise of quiet charisma," 14 June 2019 Remote Shoals is patterned after the popular Tulsa Remote program, established in 2018 to attract remote workers to Tulsa, Okla. William Thornton |,, "Remote tech worker? You could make $10K relocating to the Shoals," 10 June 2019 The monochromatic trend throws away the stereotype of wearing complementary colors and creates a color or patterned compilation that oddly flows together. Nandi Howard, Essence, "Will Monochromatic Looks Become Fall's Biggest Trend?," 5 June 2019 Michael Levin at Tufts University was among the earliest to wonder if a cell’s inability to communicate normally with the body’s patterning networks was also relevant to the behavior of cancer. Sally Adee, Quartz, "Our bodies are full of electricity that could help us fight cancer," 30 May 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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Statistics for pattern

Last Updated

16 Jul 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 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

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).


to complain fretfully

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