Definition of figural in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈfiɡyərəl/


1 another term for figurative (sense 1)).
Example sentences
  • Sacks focuses on how elegies, through the use of figural language and by making recourse to techniques like repetition, defer death.
  • With Ralph Touchett, James uses the figural representation of textuality to control readers' response to him, and (at least in part) to exonerate his ethical failures.
  • However, James's figural use of textuality both produces and justifies a reader's instinctive preference for Ralph.
1.1(In postmodernist writing) relating to or denoting a form of signification that relies on imagery and association rather than on rational and linguistic concepts.
Example sentences
  • Our received knowledge is that film is primarily a ‘visual’ medium; ergo, its represented references and appeal to most of our other senses are understood as figural rather than literal.
  • Did you begin with the notion of a ‘sonnet’ sequence and use it as the container into which figural patterns were discharged, or did the writing seem to insist on certain formal conditions as you proceeded and revised?
  • Various motifs, figural echoes, and symmetries have a fugitive presence in the film: they come and go, never entirely gathering all the fragments into a reassuring whole.
2 Art another term for figurative (sense 2)).


Late Middle English: from Old French, or from late Latin figuralis, from figura 'form, shape' (see figure).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: fig·ur·al

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