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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from prefigure

prefigurement \ ˌprē-​ˈfi-​gyər-​mənt How to pronounce prefigure (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 Visits by Kerry to Saudi Arabia and Mexico before Glasgow could prefigure new commitments from both those countries. Washington Post, 15 Oct. 2021 Its remaining original construction — in the vernacular idiom, with touches that prefigure the Baroque, and an Orientalist flared red ceramic tile roof — dates to the late 1500s. New York Times, 24 Sep. 2021 As in life, guns prefigure and alter things, often irreparably. Jeffrey Ann Goudie,, 18 Mar. 2021 Hamlet 2000 is a film of blue hallucinations and vertigo in a strange, nervous year that seems to prefigure the anguish that is 2020. Virginia Heffernan, Wired, 29 Dec. 2020 Jesus’ swaddling clothes prefigure his freeing us from death’s winding sheets. Alexandra Mullen, WSJ, 23 Dec. 2020 Not long ago, Hong Kong was seen as the city that would prefigure a more liberal, prosperous future for China. Washington Post, 3 July 2020 In one jaw-dropping sequence of side-by-sides, af Klint paintings uncannily prefigure later work by celebrated contemporaries and descendants, among them Albers, Klee and Warhol. Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter, 17 Apr. 2020 Leaving Portugal was another story, and the Kafkaesque obstacles European Jews encountered attempting to gain entry to the West prefigured the difficulties African and Syrian refugees face today. Thomas Chatterton Williams, Harper's Magazine, 30 Mar. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About prefigure

Time Traveler for prefigure

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near prefigure




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for prefigure

Last Updated

21 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Prefigure.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Oct. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for prefigure



English Language Learners Definition of prefigure

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

More from Merriam-Webster on prefigure

Nglish: Translation of prefigure for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Dog Words Quiz

  • shiba puppy more or less demanding cuddles
  • Which of the following animals has a dog in its etymology?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something 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!