Definition of pattern in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈpat(ə)n/


1A repeated decorative design: a neat blue herringbone pattern
More example sentences
  • Included are geometrics, florals and foliates, animals and nature motifs and other decorative repeat patterns.
  • These aspects then become ornamented with Islamic-inspired decorative patterns and Islamic cultural artifacts.
  • It featured exuberant decorative patterns, designs in the brickwork and wooden attachments.
design, decoration, motif, marking, ornament, ornamentation, device, figure
1.1An arrangement or design regularly found in comparable objects: the house had been built on the usual pattern
More example sentences
  • Structurally, the tumor cells were arranged in a medullary pattern composed of polygonal tumor cells.
  • The hair-cells within the spiralling cochlear duct are arranged in a pattern like the bristles of a brush.
  • The fossils indicate the wings had feathers, arranged in a similar pattern to that of modern birds.
model, example, criterion, standard, basis, point of reference, gauge, norm, formula, guide, scale, guideline, yardstick, touchstone, benchmark, ideal, exemplar, paradigm, canon;
blueprint, archetype, prototype, original, design;
template, mould, cast, matrix, last, layout, outline, sketch, draft, stencil, sample, specimen, specification, shape, plan, style, source, type
2A regular and intelligible form or sequence discernible in the way in which something happens or is done: a complicating factor is the change in working patterns
More example sentences
  • An ECG also shows doctors how fast your heart is beating and whether it's beating in a regular pattern.
  • Then activate the timer, and the patterns automatically sequence and repeat.
  • Basically, a clock depends on something that repeats a pattern at a very regular rate.
system, order, arrangement, method, sequence, structure, scheme, plan, form, format, framework, composition, constitution, shape, make-up, configuration
3A model or design used as a guide in needlework and other crafts: make a pattern for the zigzag edge
More example sentences
  • Using a T-shirt and an A-line skirt as guides, make paper patterns.
  • Using your pattern, the cloth is then cut and trimmed, along with the finest linings and silks available.
3.1A set of instructions to be followed in making a sewn or knitted item: the bag contained wool, needles, and a pattern for a sweater
More example sentences
  • These follow a similar pattern to the later instructions.
  • Find instructions and free patterns on the Internet.
  • I wish I could list out the Christmas knitting patterns, but three out of the four intendees occasionally peruse the blog, and it's not much fun if they know in advance.
3.2A wooden or metal model from which a mould is made for a casting: to make a split mould a wooden pattern has to be made first
More example sentences
  • It involves using a special type of sand and a wooden pattern.
  • Visual inspection of the quality of the metal pattern was carried out using a 20x lens on an upright light microscope.
3.3A sample of cloth or wallpaper: [as modifier]: it is easier to choose carpets from the roll than from a pattern book
4An excellent example for others to follow: he set the pattern for subsequent study
More example sentences
  • With regard to disease processes, the chapters follow the same layout and provide an excellent pattern for learning.
  • If this can be achieved, the pattern and example that he sets will be not just for Scotland, but a light to the world.
  • Therefore, the 1937 treaty set the pattern for the subsequent flurries of activities.


[with object]
1 (usually as adjective patterned) Decorate with a recurring design: rosebud patterned wallpapers
More example sentences
  • Delilah dressed in a large dress that was light green and was littered with bows and patterned with rosebuds.
  • Amy turns around in her pastel pink frilly-laced top, patterned with small flowers.
  • Lola herself has doffed her shabby robe and is wearing a gaudy dress patterned with large flowers.
decorated, ornamented, figured, tessellated, mosaic;
goffered, crimped, watered, moiré, fancy, adorned, embellished, intricate
2Give a regular or intelligible form to: the brain not only receives information, but interprets and patterns it
More example sentences
  • I can't help but think we are still looking to secular models to pattern our thinking rather than to revelation.
  • These visible alterations in chromosome structure do not affect polarity by altering transcription of key patterning genes.
  • These innovations all involve evolutionary changes in the regulation of polyp and colony-wide patterning systems.
shape, influence, form, model, fashion, mould, style;
affect, determine, direct, control, guide, lead
2.1 (pattern something on/after) Give something a form based on that of (something else): the clothing is patterned on athletes' wear
More example sentences
  • Staff members will pattern their leadership after those above them - not after what others say as much as what they do.
  • Today it is not uncommon for some of the so-called replica firearms to be of better quality and performance than the originals they were patterned after.
  • While polyphonic tones were better than monotones, they still sounded more like an old video game than the music they were patterned after.


Middle English patron 'something serving as a model', from Old French (see patron). The change in sense is from the idea of a patron giving an example to be copied. Metathesis in the second syllable occurred in the 16th century By 1700 patron ceased to be used of things, and the two forms became differentiated in sense.

  • Originally pattern and patron were the same word. Patron comes, via French, from Latin patronus ‘protector of clients, defender’, a sense which explains J. K. Rowling's use of ‘Patronus’ for a spell that produces a protecting animal in the Harry Potter books. The word goes back to pater ‘father’ ( see further under pope). The word pattern developed from the idea of a patron giving an example to be copied. The swapping round of sounds (metathesis) of the vowel and the ‘r’ occurred in the 16th century, and by 1700 patron ceased to be used of things, and the two forms developed different senses.

Words that rhyme with pattern

baton, batten, fatten, flatten, harmattan, Manhattan, Mountbatten, paten, patten, platen, Saturn, slattern

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: pat|tern

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