Definition of figuration in English:


Line breaks: fig¦ur|ation
Pronunciation: /ˌfɪgəˈreɪʃ(ə)n
, -gjʊ-/


[mass noun]
  • 1Ornamentation by means of figures or designs.
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    • These transformations of nature into pattern, of narrative into schema, of figuration into device are what gives ornament its authentic character.
    • In the history of ornament it is descriptive or illusionistic figuration that is aberrant.
    • This new emphasis on figuration also led to a flowering in the production of illustrated manuscripts from the thirteenth century onward.
  • 1.1 Music The use of florid counterpoint: the figuration of the accompaniment comes out too strongly [count noun]: in modern music we have small ostinato figurations
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    • The music is certainly not immune from figuration that assists finger dexterity, but it is polished less for fingers and more for ears.
    • By the second movement they had gained impetus, each variation infused with poise and delicacy, especially the leader's virtuoso figuration and Emma Denton's eloquent cello theme.
    • Throughout the concerto, the soloist is put through his paces with miles of finger-bending figurations.
  • 2Allegorical representation: the figuration of ‘The Possessed’ is much more complex
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    • The crystalline mirror reminds us that the images of the dream vision are not mimetic representations but allegorical figurations.
    • It is not so much the use of language that Rousseau deplores - even less of figurative language, since figuration represents for Rousseau the form under which language first appeared.
    • Curiosity also connects the allegorical figuration of Nell's story and the novel's anti-didactic agenda.


Middle English (in the senses 'outline' and 'making of arithmetical figures'): from Latin figuratio(n-), from figurare 'to form or fashion', from figura (see figure).

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