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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from pattern


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

Synonyms for pattern

Synonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The ultra-premium Dell Latitude 9510 appears ready to shake things up for business types, with an ultra-compact design, 5G integration, and Dell Optimizer software that analyzes your usage patterns and tries to save you time with routine tasks. PCWorld, "CES 2020: The chips, laptops, and badass gear PC enthusiasts need to know about," 11 Jan. 2020 The company's big break, though, would come a few years later, when their floral patterns caught the eye of one very iconic tastemaker: Jackie Kennedy. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "Inside the Intricate Silkscreening Process at Tillett Textiles," 11 Jan. 2020 The researchers then compare their patterns with those of healthy subjects. Jacob M. Appel, STAT, "A ‘radical proposition’: A health care veteran tries to upend the system and bring drug prices down," 9 Jan. 2020 As the conversation around health evolves, many people change their eating patterns under the guise of wellness rather than weight loss. Caitlin Wolper, Allure, "Disordered Eating Is Still Missing From the Conversation About Eating Disorders," 8 Jan. 2020 Many analysts contend that Iran and its militant allies are reverting to their pattern of covert or indirect attacks that leave no clear evidence of Iranian responsibility. New York Times, "Its Missiles Did Little Damage, but Iran Has More Potent Weapons," 8 Jan. 2020 Researchers can detect that these are bots and not people based on their patterns of posting, but the bot technology is getting better all the time, outpacing tracking attempts. Bruce Schneier, The Atlantic, "The Future of Politics Is Robots Shouting at One Another," 7 Jan. 2020 In doing so, Secretary Carson continues his pattern of attempts to weaken and disrupt the agency’s responsibility to uphold its fair housing duties. Washington Post, "HUD releases proposal, further weakening enforcement of fair housing laws," 7 Jan. 2020 After all, our listening patterns do interact and change the way the algorithm delivers music. Mario J. Lucero, Quartz, "Music streaming services mishandle our data—and our culture is paying for it," 3 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In voyeuristic views of opulent Parisian interiors, lone musicians practice their instruments; naked women loll on patterned textiles and unhappy marriages and love affairs unfold. Roberta Smith, New York Times, "When He Was Good, He Was Breathtaking," 6 Jan. 2020 And these trendsetters brought in a decade with mini bags, patterned suits and bustiers. Nandi Howard, Essence, "The Best Dressed Black Creatives This Week," 3 Jan. 2020 More than anything, the video seems to serve as an ode to Swift's strong Christmas fashion choices -- the movies show the infant Swift in an array of winter gear, from cute knitted hats to retro patterned sweaters and an array of padded ski suits. Amy Woodyatt, CNN, "Taylor Swift releases Christmas song, complete with cute home movie compilation," 6 Dec. 2019 Lizzo nailed winter dressing with this patterned brown jacket and dress. Georgina Kim, Glamour, "How to Switch Up Your Outerwear This Winter," 29 Nov. 2019 The portrait features a casual Barack in a plaid shirt with the top buttons undone, while Michelle opted for a flowy patterned dress for the occasion. Cydney Henderson, USA TODAY, "Michelle Obama shares new Thanksgiving photo with Barack and all grown-up Malia and Sasha," 28 Nov. 2019 Pre-patterning genes like wntA activate and communicate with different molecules and genes, more or less outlining the master plan for wing pattern. Lila Thulin, Smithsonian, "What butterflies’ Colorful Wing Patterns Can Teach Us About Evolution," 18 Nov. 2019 An elaborate patterned drive welcomes visitors, and a bridge over a small moat takes you inside. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Striking contemporary perfect for wood lovers asks $2M," 8 July 2019 The curved openings are sheathed with perforated steel screens that are meant to evoke traditional Mashrabiya patterned screened walls. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Concrete desert retreat mimics surrounding mountains and dunes," 12 June 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about pattern

Time Traveler for pattern

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for pattern

Last Updated

15 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Pattern.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 23 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more


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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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).


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Intact Latin Quiz

  • roman tablet
  • What did focus mean in Latin?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!