pre·​fig·​ure | \ ˌprē-ˈfi-gyər How to pronounce prefigure (audio) , especially British -ˈfi-gə\
prefigured; prefiguring; prefigures

Definition of prefigure

transitive verb

1 : to show, suggest, or announce by an antecedent type, image, or likeness
2 : to picture or imagine beforehand

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Other Words from prefigure

prefigurement \ ˌprē-​ˈfi-​gyər-​mənt How to pronounce prefigurement (audio) , especially British  -​ˈfi-​gə-​ \ noun

Examples of prefigure in a Sentence

His style of painting prefigured the development of modern art. the first crocus traditionally prefigures the arrival of spring

Recent Examples on the Web

The vigorous asymmetry of Chapelle’s composition and his breezy, sketchlike draftsmanship not only reflect contemporaneous Rococo painters like François Boucher, but seem to prefigure early 20th-century poster design. Barrymore Laurence Scherer, WSJ, "‘Masterpieces of French Faience: Selections From the Sidney R. Knafel Collection’ Review: Not Dishwasher Safe," 1 Jan. 2019 Roasting people’s low batteries in screenshots prefigured that. Bijan Stephen, The Verge, "Roasting each other for our battery life in screenshots brought the internet together," 13 Aug. 2018 Aggressively pretty clothes were worn in a fume flecked background that prefigured the gilet jaunes Parisian chaos of the last few months. Vogue, "Vogue Editors Share Their Favorite Fashion Shows of the Year," 28 Dec. 2018 In many ways, the series prefigured what 2016’s Rogue One was trying to accomplish: tell a standalone story in the larger Star Wars universe, apart from the main saga story. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "The next big Star Wars book will follow a squadron of rebel pilots hunting down the Empire," 5 Oct. 2018 Emerson’s fellow Transcendentalist, Henry David Thoreau, prefigured today’s hiker-hunter cultural split. Bruce Barcott, New York Times, "How Hunting Became a Macho Sport," 22 June 2018 But this project, written by and about women, prefigures a lot of the calls for representation that have emerged from the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. Alex Bhattacharji, WSJ, "Gillian Flynn, Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson Aren’t Afraid to Tackle Big Topics," 21 May 2018 The effort to install Yanukovych prefigured many elements of Trump’s campaign. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Will Trump Be Meeting With His Counterpart — Or His Handler?," 8 July 2018 Friedman’s essay prefigured the indifference of today’s pro-market reformers to racial segregation in education as long as the tradeoff is private schools. Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, "What and who is fueling the movement to privatize public education — and why you should care," 30 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'prefigure.' 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 prefigure

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for prefigure

Middle English, from Late Latin praefigurare, from Latin prae- pre- + figurare to shape, picture, from figura figure

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Time Traveler for prefigure

The first known use of prefigure was in the 15th century

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English Language Learners Definition of prefigure

formal : to show or suggest (something that will happen or exist at a future time)

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More from Merriam-Webster on prefigure

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for prefigure

Spanish Central: Translation of prefigure

Nglish: Translation of prefigure for Spanish Speakers

Comments on prefigure

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


a strong desire or propensity

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