1. a decorative design, as for wallpaper, china, or textile fabrics, etc.
  2. decoration or ornament having such a design.
  3. a natural or chance marking, configuration, or design: patterns of frost on the window.
  4. a distinctive style, model, or form: a new pattern of army helmet.
  5. a combination of qualities, acts, tendencies, etc., forming a consistent or characteristic arrangement: the behavior patterns of teenagers.
  6. an original or model considered for or deserving of imitation: Our constitution has been a pattern for those of many new republics.
  7. anything fashioned or designed to serve as a model or guide for something to be made: a paper pattern for a dress.
  8. a sufficient quantity of material for making a garment.
  9. the path of flight established for an aircraft approaching an airport at which it is to land.
  10. a diagram of lines transmitted occasionally by a television station to aid in adjusting receiving sets; test pattern.
  11. Metallurgy. a model or form, usually of wood or metal, used for giving the shape of the interior of a mold.
  12. Numismatics. a coin, either the redesign of an existing piece or the model for a new one, submitted for authorization as a regular issue.
  13. an example, instance, sample, or specimen.
  14. Gunnery, Aerial Bombing.
    1. the distribution of strikes around a target at which artillery rounds have been fired or on which bombs have been dropped.
    2. a diagram showing such distribution.

verb (used with object)

  1. to make or fashion after or according to a pattern.
  2. to cover or mark with a pattern.
  3. Chiefly British Dialect.
    1. to imitate.
    2. to attempt to match or duplicate.

verb (used without object)

  1. to make or fall into a pattern.


  1. an arrangement of repeated or corresponding parts, decorative motifs, etcalthough the notes seemed random, a careful listener could detect a pattern
  2. a decorative designa paisley pattern
  3. a stylevarious patterns of cutlery
  4. a plan or diagram used as a guide in making somethinga paper pattern for a dress
  5. a standard way of moving, acting, etctraffic patterns
  6. a model worthy of imitationa pattern of kindness
  7. a representative sample
  8. a wooden or metal shape or model used in a foundry to make a mould
    1. the arrangement of marks made in a target by bullets
    2. a diagram displaying such an arrangement

verb (tr)

  1. (often foll by after or on) to model
  2. to arrange as or decorate with a pattern


  1. Irish an outdoor assembly with religious practices, traders’ stalls, etc on the feast day of a patron saint

early 14c., “outline, plan, model, pattern;” early 15c. as “model of behavior, exemplar,” from Old French patron and directly from Medieval Latin patronus (see patron).

Extended sense of “decorative design” first recorded 1580s, from earlier sense of a “patron” as a model to be imitated. The difference in form and sense between patron and pattern wasn’t firm till 1700s. Meaning “model or design in dressmaking” (especially one of paper) is first recorded 1792, in Jane Austen.


1580s, “to make a pattern for, design, plan,” from pattern (n.). Meaning “to make something after a pattern” is c.1600. Phrase pattern after “take as a model” is from 1878.

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