1 of 2


pat·​tern ˈpa-tərn How to pronounce pattern (audio)
: a form or model proposed for imitation : exemplar
: something designed or used as a model for making things
a dressmaker's pattern
: an artistic, musical, literary, or mechanical design or form
the geometrical pattern of the carpet
the strict pattern of rhythm and rhyme for a sonnetGigi Marino
: a natural or chance configuration
frost patterns
the pattern of events
dated : a length of fabric sufficient for an article (as of clothing)
: the distribution of shrapnel, bombs on a target, or shot from a shotgun
: the grouping made on a target by bullets
: 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
: the flight path prescribed for an airplane that is coming in for a landing
: a prescribed route to be followed by a pass receiver in football
: a discernible coherent system based on the intended interrelationship of component parts
foreign policy patterns
: frequent or widespread incidence
a pattern of dissent
a pattern of violence
patterned adjective
patternless adjective


2 of 2


patterned; patterning; patterns

transitive verb

dialectal, chiefly England
: match
: to make, adapt, or fashion according to a pattern
: to furnish, adorn, or mark with a design

intransitive verb

: to form a pattern
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

Example Sentences

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
Mulkey showed up to the Tigers' Sweet 16 matchup against the Utah Utes in a sharp blazer that featured a floral and plaid pattern. Victoria Hernandez, USA TODAY, 24 Mar. 2023 Gallagher was the victim of a grand larceny, the police sources said, and her death is being linked to a pattern of victims who were drugged and robbed. Aaron Katersky, ABC News, 24 Mar. 2023 In this Southampton garden, a playful oversized lattice pattern feels fresh and timeless all at once. Alyssa Longobucco, House Beautiful, 24 Mar. 2023 As the days get longer and wildflowers begin to bloom, hummingbirds have followed their regular migratory pattern and are back in North Texas this spring. Noor Adatia, Dallas News, 23 Mar. 2023 Henry’s apology fits a pattern that does not boost the trust fans have in FSG, Blott said. Michael Silverman,, 23 Mar. 2023 But where most repeating progressions in modern country use a four-chord pattern, this one covered six. Tom Roland, Billboard, 22 Mar. 2023 In what has become a pattern while assessing Ukraine’s battlefield needs, Biden eventually relented, assessing that the issue would not be resolved without an American commitment of tanks. Dan Lamothe, Anchorage Daily News, 22 Mar. 2023 The criminal complaint outlines a pattern of stalking behavior by Howell and quotes Schoeffling’s own statements to police, captured on officers’ body cameras and security footage. Ashley Luthern, Journal Sentinel, 22 Mar. 2023
Color everything, pattern everything and all mixed together and crazy. Astrid Kayembe, Los Angeles Times, 23 Mar. 2023 Wilson said he’s tried to pattern his game after former NFL cornerback Darrelle Revis, who was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection and four-time, first-team All-Pro during his 17-year career. Bob Mcmanaman, The Arizona Republic, 13 May 2021 The two worked together to pattern the deer, but Hogue always planned for his buddy to ultimately put a tag on bruiser. Scott Bestul, Field & Stream, 9 Jan. 2023 Premium ammunition will pattern better and may eject easier from autoloading shotguns than cheap shells. Matt Williams, Dallas News, 27 Aug. 2022 This modularity is enabled by the presence of Hox genes, master control genes that pattern the developing body. Malcolm Maciver, Discover Magazine, 28 Sep. 2010 The chorus flips that pattern a bit, descending in its opening moments and making longer notes more prominent. Tom Roland, Billboard, 29 Nov. 2022 Next, the researchers had to figure out how to pattern a surface with thousands of their artificial cilia. Saugat Bolakhe, Scientific American, 11 July 2022 Defenders including Tony Allen, Shane Battier, Bruce Bowen, Michael Cooper and Derek Harper would become guys that young players might pattern themselves after. Greg Moore, The Arizona Republic, 4 Feb. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'pattern.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Noun and Verb

Middle English patron, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin patronus

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1586, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near pattern

Cite this Entry

“Pattern.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
pat·​tern ˈpat-ərn How to pronounce pattern (audio)
: something worth imitating or using as a guide
: a model or guide for making something
a dress pattern
: an artistic form, figure, or design
chintz with a small pattern
: a set of characteristics that are displayed repeatedly
behavior patterns


2 of 2 verb
: to make or design by following a pattern


Middle English patron "pattern," from early French patron (same meaning), from Latin patronus "patron, patron saint," from earlier patronus "defender, protector," from patr-, pater "father" — related to padre, paternal, patron

Medical Definition


pat·​tern ˈpat-ərn How to pronounce pattern (audio)
: a model for making a mold used to form a casting
: a reliable sample of traits, acts, tendencies, or other observable characteristics of a person, group, or institution
patterns of behavior
: an established mode of behavior or cluster of mental attitudes, beliefs, and values that are held in common by members of a group

Legal Definition


pat·​tern ˈpa-tərn How to pronounce pattern (audio)
: a form or model proposed for imitation
: a recognizably consistent series of related acts
found a pattern of discrimination in that company
a pattern of racketeering activity

More from Merriam-Webster on pattern

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