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figure Meaning, Definition & Usage

  1. noun a diagram or picture illustrating textual material
    • the area covered can be seen from Figure 2
  2. noun alternative names for the body of a human being
    form; flesh; soma; frame; physique; material body; anatomy; shape; chassis; build; human body; physical body; bod.
    • Leonardo studied the human body
    • he has a strong physique
    • the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak
  3. noun one of the elements that collectively form a system of numeration
    • 0 and 1 are digits
  4. noun a model of a bodily form (especially of a person)
    • he made a figure of Santa Claus
  5. noun a well-known or notable person
    name; public figure.
    • they studied all the great names in the history of France
    • she is an important figure in modern music
  6. noun a combination of points and lines and planes that form a visible palpable shape
  7. noun an amount of money expressed numerically
    • a figure of $17 was suggested
  8. noun the impression produced by a person
    • he cut a fine figure
    • a heroic figure
  9. noun the property possessed by a sum or total or indefinite quantity of units or individuals
    • he had a number of chores to do
    • the number of parameters is small
    • the figure was about a thousand
  10. noun language used in a figurative or nonliteral sense
    image; trope; figure of speech.
  11. noun a unitary percept having structure and coherence that is the object of attention and that stands out against a ground
  12. noun a decorative or artistic work
    pattern; design.
    • the coach had a design on the doors
  13. noun a predetermined set of movements in dancing or skating
    • she made the best score on compulsory figures
  14. verb judge to be probable
    calculate; reckon; forecast; estimate; count on.
  15. verb be or play a part of or in
    • Elections figure prominently in every government program
    • How do the elections figure in the current pattern of internal politics?
  16. verb imagine; conceive of; see in one's mind
    picture; visualize; envision; visualise; image; fancy; project; see.
    • I can't see him on horseback!
    • I can see what will happen
    • I can see a risk in this strategy
  17. verb make a mathematical calculation or computation
    cypher; compute; calculate; work out; reckon; cipher.
  18. verb understand
    • He didn't figure her

Fig"ure noun
F., figure, L. figura; akin to fingere to form, shape, feign. See Feign.
  1. The form of anything; shape; outline; appearance.
    Flowers have all exquisite figures. Bacon.
  2. The representation of any form, as by drawing, painting, modeling, carving, embroidering, etc.; especially, a representation of the human body; as, a figure in bronze; a figure cut in marble.
    A coin that bears the figure of an angel. Shak.
  3. A pattern in cloth, paper, or other manufactured article; a design wrought out in a fabric; as, the muslin was of a pretty figure.
  4. (Geom.) A diagram or drawing; made to represent a magnitude or the relation of two or more magnitudes; a surface or space inclosed on all sides; -- called superficial when inclosed by lines, and solid when inclosed by surface; any arrangement made up of points, lines, angles, surfaces, etc.
  5. The appearance or impression made by the conduct or carrer of a person; as, a sorry figure.
    I made some figure there. Dryden.
    Gentlemen of the best figure in the county. Blackstone.
  6. Distinguished appearance; magnificence; conspicuous representation; splendor; show.
    That he may live in figure and indulgence. Law.
  7. A character or symbol representing a number; a numeral; a digit; as, 1, 2,3, etc.
  8. Value, as expressed in numbers; price; as, the goods are estimated or sold at a low figure. Colloq.
    With nineteen thousand a year at the very lowest figure. Thackeray.
  9. A person, thing, or action, conceived of as analogous to another person, thing, or action, of which it thus becomes a type or representative.
    Who is the figure of Him that was to come. Rom. v. 14.
  10. (Rhet.) A mode of expressing abstract or immaterial ideas by words which suggest pictures or images from the physical world; pictorial language; a trope; hence, any deviation from the plainest form of statement.
    To represent the imagination under the figure of a wing. Macaulay.
  11. (Logic) The form of a syllogism with respect to the relative position of the middle term.
  12. (Dancing) Any one of the several regular steps or movements made by a dancer.
  13. (Astrol.) A horoscope; the diagram of the aspects of the astrological houses. Johnson.
  14. (Music) (a) Any short succession of notes, either as melody or as a group of chords, which produce a single complete and distinct impression. Grove. (b) A form of melody or accompaniment kept up through a strain or passage; a musical or motive; a florid embellishment. ✍ Figures are often written upon the staff in music to denote the kind of measure. They are usually in the form of a fraction, the upper figure showing how many notes of the kind indicated by the lower are contained in one measure or bar. Thus, 2/4 signifies that the measure contains two quarter notes. The following are the principal figures used for this purpose: -- the "figures" illustrated here have a bar through each number and cannot be represented as simple fractions, thus the special "musfig" field notation. The following numbers are contained in a single line of large (ca. 14 pt.) bold type 2/22/42/8 4/22/44/8 3/23/43/8 6/46/46/8
Fig"ure transitive verb
F. figurer, L. figurare, fr. figura. See Figure, n.
imperfect & past participle Figured ; present participle & verbal noun Figuring
  1. To represent by a figure, as to form or mold; to make an image of, either palpable or ideal; also, to fashion into a determinate form; to shape.
    If love, alas! be pain I bear, No thought can figure, and no tongue declare.Prior.
  2. To embellish with design; to adorn with figures.
    The vaulty top of heaven Figured quite o'er with burning meteors. Shak.
  3. To indicate by numerals; also, to compute.
    As through a crystal glass the figured hours are seen. Dryden.
  4. To represent by a metaphor; to signify or symbolize.
    Whose white vestments figure innocence. Shak.
  5. To prefigure; to foreshow.
    In this the heaven figures some event. Shak.
  6. (Mus.) (a) To write over or under the bass, as figures or other characters, in order to indicate the accompanying chords. (b) To embellish.
Fig"ure transitive verb
  1. To make a figure; to be distinguished or conspicious; as, the envoy figured at court.
    Sociable, hospitable, eloquent, admired, figuring away brilliantly. M. Arnold.
  2. To calculate; to contrive; to scheme; as, he is figuring to secure the nomination. Colloq.

Webster 1913