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figure

Line breaks: fig¦ure
Pronunciation: /ˈfɪɡə
 
/

Definition of figure in English:

noun

1A number, especially one which forms part of official statistics or relates to the financial performance of a company: the trade figures by 1998, this figure had risen to 14 million
More example sentences
  • The Bank's move came despite today's official figures showing inflation rising to its highest level for two years.
  • Those are not figures that are just plucked out of the air; they are official police figures used to compile statistics.
  • It cites official figures that show crime rising steadily over 40 years.
Synonyms
statistic, number, integer, quantity, amount, level, total, sum;
(figures)data, information, particulars
1.1A numerical symbol, especially any of the ten in Arabic notation: the figure 7
More example sentences
  • Lucian drew a sideways figure 8 in the air beside Mark.
  • Millar is preparing for the opening time trial wearing a number that ends with a figure 1.
Synonyms
digit, numeral, numerical symbol, character
rare cipher
1.2One of a specified number of digits making up a larger number, used to give a rough idea of the order of magnitude: [in combination]: a six-figure sum of money
More example sentences
  • They don't want you to know that reps are working about 20 to 30 hours a week while pulling down close to six-figure salaries.
  • Our inflation rate has been in single figures, moving between 2 percent and 4 percent.
  • One of these youths stole a four-figure sum from me recently and I am now very apprehensive.
1.3An amount of money: a figure of two thousand pounds
More example sentences
  • In the 18 months since the meters were introduced, they had not even managed to bring in half of the break-even figure of about £4,500.
  • Within the letter, the figure of ‘$500,000 a year’ is noted repeatedly.
  • The gross for the final session was up 14.2% over last year's figure of $1,160,500.
Synonyms
price, cost, amount, quantity, value, valuation, quotation, quote, rate;
total, sum, aggregate
informal , humorous damage
1.4 (figures) Arithmetical calculations: she has no head for figures
More example sentences
  • The man thought this over for a few seconds, calculating figures in his head.
  • Lee took the maps and calibrators and ran a few figures and calculations and looked at the Admiral.
  • His father sent him off to college to study business administration, but Gallagher says he wasn't any good at figures.
Synonyms
British informal maths
North American informal math
2A person’s bodily shape, especially that of a woman and when considered to be attractive: she had always been so proud of her figure
More example sentences
  • He couldn't sleep at night, only thinking of her slim and attractive figure with a good-natured mind.
  • The pants really flattered her figure.
  • She will be proud to show her figure as she will pose in sexy lingerie of her choice.
Synonyms
2.1A person seen indistinctly or from a distance: a dark figure emerged from the shadows
More example sentences
  • She squinted suddenly at what appeared to be two figures in the distance.
  • A dark figure emerged from one side of the street and another from the other side.
  • She screamed even louder when the door suddenly opened and a dark figure suddenly appeared.
Synonyms
2.2A representation of a human or animal form in drawing or sculpture: starkly painted figures
More example sentences
  • Small clay figures, human and animal, were modelled and placed as offerings on mountain peak sanctuaries.
  • The modeling and outline of the figures showed sculptural solidity.
  • Sumida pottery is a heavy, brightly glazed pottery and often has human and animal figures attached as reliefs.
Synonyms
human representation, image of a person, effigy;
likeness
3A person of a particular kind, especially one who is important or distinctive in some way: Williams became something of a cult figure
More example sentences
  • It was decided that portraits of historical figures who have made important contributions to culture and art should be sculptured.
  • The main figure on whom Baxter relied was Randall.
  • In many cases it is perfectly reasonable to accept the conclusions of authority figures one trusts.
Synonyms
person, personage, individual, man, woman, character, personality, presence;
representative, embodiment, personification, epitome, symbol, representation, exemplification, exemplar
4A shape which is defined by one or more lines in two dimensions (such as a circle or a triangle), or one or more surfaces in three dimensions (such as a sphere or a cuboid), either considered mathematically in geometry or used as a decorative design: a red ground with white and blue geometrical figures
More example sentences
  • In particular he proved that the sphere was the solid figure of greatest surface area for a given volume.
  • Now if you thought these lines referred to geometric figures, you would not be too far wrong.
  • He observed that ideas of shapes or figures, like the triangle, were ideas of things he had not invented or conjured up.
Synonyms
shape, pattern, design, motif, device, depiction
4.1A diagram or illustrative drawing, especially in a book or magazine: figure 1 shows an ignition circuit
More example sentences
  • The book utilizes tables and figures effectively to illustrate the main concepts of each chapter.
  • The text is well illustrated with excellent diagrams, sketches and figures.
  • The data from each plate were then graphed and analyzed (Figure 1A).
Synonyms
diagram, illustration, drawing, picture, plate, graphic, sketch, chart, plan, map
4.2(In skating) a movement or series of movements following a prescribed pattern and often beginning and ending at the same point.
Example sentences
  • In receiving the award Jered follows in his mother's footsteps - she is listed on the trophy three times, as a gold test skater in figures, freestyle, and pairs.
  • For the rare skater who is still involved in skating figures, one final aspect of the used blades market is the practice of converting used freestyle blades into patch blades.
4.3A pattern formed by the movements of a group of people, for example in country dancing, as part of a longer dance or display.
Example sentences
  • It has dance movements, or figures, that might remind you of traditional square dancing.
  • Included are figure dancing, solo dancing, recitations, music and novelty acts.
  • Most Irish figure dancing or step dancing is carried on behind closed doors.
4.4 archaic The external form or shape of something.
5 Music A short succession of notes producing a single impression; a brief melodic or rhythmic formula out of which longer passages are developed.
Example sentences
  • Their textures are dominated by right-hand melodies against chordal accompaniment figures.
  • Melodic figures are treated circularly, giving the piece a minimalist sound.
  • Every melodic figure had its replica, every phrase, its counterpoise in his music.
6 Logic The form of a syllogism, classified according to the position of the middle term.

verb

[no object] Back to top  
1Have a significant part or role in a situation or process: the issue of nuclear policy figured prominently in the talks human rights do not figure high on their agenda
More example sentences
  • Now, however, imagine her rescue figuring on the nightly analysis slot of some channel.
  • The Clark holdings played no small part in these events; they also figured prominently in the critical counterpunch.
  • It feels as if Haentjens has things to say about Plath that don't figure in this novel.
Synonyms
feature, appear, be featured/mentioned, be referred to;
participate, play a part, play a role, be conspicuous, have prominence, have a place;
2 [with object] North American Calculate or work out (an amount or value) arithmetically: my accountant figured my tax wrong
More example sentences
  • You won't even have to rack your brains over calculating taxes since they've already figured it out for you on the menu.
  • The change in tree cover over time was figured by comparing Landsat TM satellite images from 1985 and 2001.
  • I figure that a bodybuilder has to eat at least six times a day to grow, which is 42 meals a week.
Synonyms
calculate, work out, total, sum, reckon, compute, enumerate, determine, evaluate, quantify, assess, count, add up, put a figure on, tally, totalize, gauge;
British tot up
rare cast
3 [with clause] informal , chiefly North American Think, consider, or expect to be the case: I figured that I didn’t have much of a chance [with object]: for years, teachers had figured him for a dullard
More example sentences
  • He figured this person would make an excellent singer.
  • Investors figure that the purchaser will pay a high price for the company.
  • I stood up, walked around, drank some water and figured it was just a passing phase.
Synonyms
suppose, think, believe, fancy, consider, expect, take it, suspect, have a sneaking suspicion, sense;
assume, dare say, conclude, take it as read, presume, be of the opinion, trust;
North American guess
3.1(Of a recent event or newly discovered fact) be perfectly understandable and only to be expected: well, she supposed that figured
More example sentences
  • That figured and didn't surprise him, though he wished Harry would just have a normal conversation instead of locking him in a room.
  • It would figure that this great hog, this glorified genre gourmand, would want more.
  • Sure, that figures, if you're going to drive with that kind of load at high speed you're bound to damage something.
Synonyms
make sense, be understandable, seem reasonable, stand to reason, be to be expected, be logical, follow, add up, stand up, hold up;
ring true, be convincing;
be likely/probable, go without saying
4 [with object] Represent in a diagram or picture: varieties of this Cape genus are figured from drawings made there
More example sentences
  • An adopted daughter, who would not be represented in the tree that is figured, would nevertheless form part of the unit.
  • There is something very odd about the way the revolution is figured, and the oddness goes beyond the closing scene.
  • Losing oneself in the movie is not figured as pleasurable, but sets up, rather, a mode of helplessness in the face of an opaque and fragmented story line.
4.1 (usually as adjective figured) Embellish (something) with a pattern: the floors were covered with figured linoleum
More example sentences
  • The shapes are highly varied - cylinders, prisms, animals - and the designs range from abstract patterns to figured images of people and animals.
  • It has superbly figured timber, a majestic curvaceous profile and spectacular mounts that echo in gilt-bronze the carved detail on the jewel cabinet.
  • Reflecting the changing styles, the single-cutaway guitar featured a flat, figured maple top.

Origin

Middle English (in the senses 'distinctive shape of a person or thing', 'representation of something material or immaterial', and 'numerical symbol', among others): from Old French figure (noun), figurer (verb), from Latin figura 'shape, figure, form'; related to fingere 'form, contrive'.

More
  • The word figure, which comes ultimately from Latin figura ‘shape, figure, form’ came into English with the same wide range of meanings it has today, from ‘distinctive shape of a person’, ‘representation of something’, to ‘numerical symbol’.

Phrases

figure of fun

1
A person who is considered ridiculous.
Example sentences
  • Jesters of the past, though figures of fun at the royal court, were often highly intelligent men whose quick wit and sharp tongue both diverted the monarch and reminded him of his mortality.
  • They started out as figures of fun, but I felt their perspectives ought to be as valid as anyone else's in the book.
  • Hair thinning, waists thickening, faces falling, they are held up to us as figures of fun.

lose (or keep) one's figure

2
Lose (or retain) a slim and attractive bodily shape.
Example sentences
  • He shops and cooks for her - ‘I fell in love and lost my figure’ - and she is deliriously happy.
  • Why worry about life - you'll only end up losing your figure!
  • Mother, I can hardly expect to attract Evan's attention if I don't keep my figure.

put a figure on

3
Give a price or exact number for.
Example sentences
  • But he was reluctant to put a figure on the reduced price.
  • I wouldn't go as far as putting a figure on it though.
  • Although I can't put a figure on it because we haven't costed the scheme, resurfacing the road would be incredibly expensive and we haven't got the money to do it.

Phrasal verbs

figure on

1
North American informal Expect (something) to happen or be the case: anyone thinking of salmon fishing should figure on paying $200 a day
More example sentences
  • I wasn't expecting another plane, I figured on a car to take us to Hot Springs,’ Muriel said.
  • We weren't counting how many people would be bereft if we died, because we weren't figuring on dying.
  • I had figured on being serious at some points - writing my usual novel length posts about life and the world - but this has been much more entertaining for me.
Synonyms

figure something out

2
informal Solve or discover the cause of a problem: he was trying to figure out why the camera wasn’t working
More example sentences
  • And we will have figured it out for no other reason than to know.
  • Most jurors like to believe that they can really figure this whole puzzle out a little better than the lawyers can.
  • Finally, I would say, please understand that I am still figuring this thing out, just like everybody else.
Synonyms
work out, make out, fathom, reason, puzzle out, decipher, solve, ascertain, make sense of, think out, think through, get to the bottom of, find an answer/solution to, unravel, untangle;
understand, comprehend, see, grasp, get the hang of, get the drift of;
calculate, compute, reckon, assess
informal make head or tail of, twig, crack
British informal suss out

figure someone out

3
Reach an understanding of a person’s actions, motives, or personality.
Example sentences
  • When she figures him out, she will understand herself.
  • I imagine that strangers have even a harder time figuring him out.
  • But, if you think I am for such an agreement, you haven't figured me out yet.

Derivatives

figureless

1
adjective
Example sentences
  • Her figureless images juxtapose the natural with the manmade with surprising results: The more we humans manipulate the earth, the more dehumanized it appears.
  • The floor has been darkened and Rotman's figureless photographs are lit from behind.
  • From the perspective of Hunt's realist intentions he had no other option than to paint a figureless composition, an option that converged with his frustration with the local Jewish community.

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adjective
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