pre·​fig·​ure | \ˌprē-ˈfi-gyər, 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, 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

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 But so far state media and official spokesmen have avoided the slogans that often prefigure outbreaks of public rage—the charge, say, that a foreign power has hurt the feelings of the Chinese people. The Economist, "China considers its response to Donald Trump’s proposed tariffs," 23 June 2018 The North saga prefigured many things, large and small, about conservative politics in the present moment. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Oliver North and the Creation of Donald Trump," 7 May 2018 In writing that, however, Navarro prefigured the main problem with his and Trump's approach to trade with China: It's aimed fundamentally at undermining China's economic growth. Michael Hiltzik,, "'Shooting oneself in the foot': How Trump's China tariffs will slam U.S. companies," 5 Apr. 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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Statistics for prefigure

Last Updated

10 Dec 2018

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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

: 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).


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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