- a numerical symbol, especially an Arabic numeral.
- an amount or value expressed in numbers.
- figures, the use of numbers in calculating; arithmetic: to be poor at figures.
- a written symbol other than a letter.
- form or shape, as determined by outlines or exterior surfaces: to be round, square, or cubical in figure.
- the bodily form or frame: a slender or graceful figure.
- an individual bodily form or a person with reference to form or appearance: A tall figure stood in the doorway.
- a character or personage, especially one of distinction: a well-known figure in society.
- a person’s public image or presence: a controversial political figure.
- the appearance or impression made by a person or sometimes a thing: to make quite a figure in financial circles; to present a wretched figure of poverty.
- a representation, pictorial or sculptured, especially of the human form: The frieze was bordered with the figures of men and animals.
- an emblem, type, or symbol: The dove is a figure of peace.
- Rhetoric. a figure of speech.
- a textural pattern, as in cloth or wood: draperies with an embossed silk figure.
- a distinct movement or division of a dance.
- a movement, pattern, or series of movements in skating.
- Music. a short succession of musical notes, as either a melody or a group of chords, that produces a single complete and distinct impression.
- Geometry. a combination of geometric elements disposed in a particular form or shape: The circle, square, and polygon are plane figures. The sphere, cube, and polyhedron are solid figures.
- Logic. the form of a categorical syllogism with respect to the relative position of the middle term.
- Optics. the precise curve required on the surface of an optical element, especially the mirror or correcting plate of a reflecting telescope.
- the natural pattern on a sawed wood surface produced by the intersection of knots, burls, growth rings, etc.
- a phantasm or illusion.
verb (used with object), fig·ured, fig·ur·ing.
- to compute or calculate (often followed by up): to figure up a total.
- to express in figures.
- to mark or adorn with a design or pattern.
- to portray by speech or action.
- to represent or express by a figure of speech.
- to represent by a pictorial or sculptured figure, a diagram, or the like; picture or depict; trace (an outline, silhouette, etc.).
- Informal. to conclude, judge, reason, or think about: I figured that you wanted me to stay.
- to embellish with passing notes or other decorations.
- to write figures above or below (a bass part) to indicate accompanying chords.
verb (used without object), fig·ured, fig·ur·ing.
- to compute or work with numerical figures.
- to be or appear, especially in a conspicuous or prominent way: His name figures importantly in my report.
- Informal. (of a situation, act, request, etc.) to be logical, expected, or reasonable: He quit the job when he didn’t get a raise—it figured.
- figure in, to add in: Figure in rent and utilities as overhead.
- figure on, Informal.
- to count or rely on.
- to take into consideration; plan on: You had better figure on running into heavy traffic leaving the city.
- figure out, Informal.
- to understand; solve: We couldn’t figure out where all the money had gone.
- to calculate; compute.
- figure up, Informal. to total: The bill figures up to exactly $1000.
- cut a figure. cut(defs 84, 85b).
- any written symbol other than a letter, esp a whole number
- another name for digit (def. 2)
- an amount expressed numericallya figure of 1800 was suggested
- (plural) calculations with numbershe’s good at figures
- visible shape or form; outline
- the human form, esp as regards size or shapea girl with a slender figure
- a slim bodily shape (esp in the phrases keep or lose one’s figure)
- a character or personage, esp a prominent or notable one; personalitya figure in politics
- the impression created by a person through behaviour (esp in the phrase to cut a fine, bold, etc, figure)
- a person as impressed on the mindthe figure of Napoleon
- (in combination)father-figure
- a representation in painting or sculpture, esp of the human form
- an illustration or explanatory diagram in a text
- a representative object or symbol; emblem
- a pattern or design, as on fabric or in wood
- a predetermined set of movements in dancing or skating
- geometry any combination of points, lines, curves, or planes. A plane figure, such as a circle, encloses an area; a solid figure such as a sphere, encloses a volume
- rhetoric See figure of speech
- logic one of the four possible arrangements of the three terms in the premises of a syllogismCompare mood 2 (def. 2)
- (when tr, often foll by up) to calculate or compute (sums, amounts, etc)
- (tr; usually takes a clause as object) informal, mainly US, Canadian and NZ to think or conclude; consider
- (tr) to represent by a diagram or illustration
- (tr) to pattern or mark with a design
- (tr) to depict or portray in a painting, etc
- (tr) rhetoric to express by means of a figure of speech
- (tr) to imagine
- (tr) music
- (intr usually foll by in) to be includedhis name figures in the article
- (intr) informal to accord with expectation; be logicalit figures that he wouldn’t come
- go figure informal an expression of surprise, astonishment, wonder, etc
early 13c., “visible form or appearance of a person,” from Old French figure (10c.) “shape, body, form, figure; symbol, allegory,” from Latin figura “a shape, form, figure,” from PIE *dheigh- “to form, build” (see dough); originally in English with meaning “numeral,” but sense of “form, likeness” is almost as old (mid-13c.).
Philosophical and scientific senses are from Latin figura being used to translate Greek skhema. The rhetorical use of figure dates to late 14c.; hence figure of speech (1824). Figure eight as a shape was originally figure of eight (c.1600).
late 14c., “to represent” (in a picture); see figure (n.). Meaning “to shape into” is early 15c.; “to picture in the mind” is from c.1600; “to make an appearance” is c.1600. Meaning “work out a sum” is from 1833, American English. Related: Figured; figuring.
- A form or shape, as of the human body.
- A person representing the essential aspects of a particular role.
In addition to the idioms beginning with figure
- figure in
- figure on
- figure out
- figure up
- ballpark figure
- in round numbers (figures)
- it figures