Meaning of FIGURE in English


I. ˈfigyə(r), usual in Brit speech & frequent in US speech but regarded by many in the US as substand -gə(r); “ figur-” followed by a vowel other than “e” is usually or often pronounced with y in Brit speech noun

( -s )

Etymology: Middle English, from Old French, from Latin figura, from fig- (stem of fingere to shape, form, devise, feign) + -ura -ure — more at dough


a. : a number symbol (as one of the arabic numerals) : numeral , digit

b. figures plural : figures used in arithmetical calculating

figures can be made to prove anything

: arithmetical calculations

he is good at figures

c. : a written or printed character (as a letter, mathematical symbol, or cipher)

d. : value especially as expressed in numbers : price , amount , sum

the house sold at a low figure

e. : a numeral of a continuo in music


a. : a body apparent chiefly in outline : an object significant or noticeable only in its form

a figure moving slowly in the dusk

b. : a surface shape in a work of art visually appreciable and separable from its surroundings

figure -ground relationship

c. : the part of a total stimulus situation which is most clearly perceived by an observer and to which he responds


a. : the representation of a form (as by drawing, painting, modeling, carving, embroidering) ; specifically : a representation of the human form especially in the nude

b. : a diagram or pictorial illustration (as a linecut or photoreproduction) augmenting text matter (as of a book) — abbr. fig.

4. : a person, thing, or action conceived of as analogous to another person, thing, or action of which it is a type or representative

Adam … who is the figure of him that was to come — Rom 5:14 (Authorized Version)

5. : a diagram made to represent any definite combination of geometric elements

6. : an imagined form : phantasm

a figure of idle dreaming


a. : a figure of speech: as

(1) : metaphor

(2) : simile

b. : an intentional deviation from the ordinary form or syntactical relation of words (as in syncope)


a. : the two-dimensional proportions of a body or object

the figure of a ship on the horizon

b. : the shape of the human body

a woman with a good figure

9. : a diagram or scheme representing the heavens at a given moment (as at the moment of birth) : horoscope

10. : the form of a syllogism with respect to the relative position of the middle term — compare mood


a. : a pattern or design (as in nature or in a cloth, paper, or other manufactured article) wrought out often repetitively in systematic arrangement

the beautiful figures of crystals

a polka-dot figure

b. : the pattern produced on a wood surface by irregular coloration and by sawing through growth rings, knots, burls, and other deviations from regular grain ; especially : any such wood surface of decorative value


a. : consequence in station or mode of living : rank , grandeur

a person of figure

b. : conspicuous part or appearance : impressive effect — often used with cut or make

the couple cut quite a figure

c. : appearance made or impression produced

a person who always presented a sorry figure


a. : a series of movements that form one unit of a dance (as bowing to partners in a square dance)

b. : an outline representation of a form traced by means of a series of evolutions (as with skates on an ice surface or by an airplane in the air)

14. : a prominent personality : personage

whether people are impressed with you as a figure or a person — Anthony Perkins

15. : a short coherent group of notes or tones or chords constituting a germ which by varied repetition and association with other figures may grow into a phrase, theme, or accompaniment or entire musical composition — compare motive

Synonyms: see form , number

II. verb

( figured ; figured ; figuring -gyəriŋ, -g(ə)riŋ ; figures )

Etymology: Middle English figuren, from Middle French figurer, from Latin figurare, from figura

transitive verb


a. : to represent by or as if by a figure : portray

an emblem wherein the apostles were figured

b. archaic : to represent or express by a metaphor : symbolize

c. obsolete : foreshadow


a. : to adorn or embellish with a pattern or design

figured cloth


(1) : to write figures over or under (the bass) in order to indicate the accompanying chords of a musical composition

(2) : to embellish in music with passing notes or figures


a. : to indicate or represent by numerals

water depth figured along a wharf piling

b. : to provide with numerals

a watch dial figured in luminescent green

4. : to give the requisite shape to (as a mirror, lens, or prism)



(1) : compute , reckon

figure expenses

specifically : add — usually used with up

figure up an account

(2) : to determine or ascertain — usually used with out

figure a way out of a difficulty


(1) : solve — usually used with out

figure a problem out

(2) : conclude , decide

he figured there was no use in further effort

(3) slang : to perceive the true makeup of : understand

he figured the whole scheme right away


a. : regard , consider

figure himself a good candidate

b. : think , assume

intransitive verb

1. : to make a figure : be or appear important

the vice-president really figured in the company

2. : to perform a figure in dancing

3. : compute , calculate

a carpenter figuring on a board with a stub of pencil

4. slang : to seem rational, normal, or expected : be understandable

sure, that figures

- figure on

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.