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[pat-er-ning] /ˈpæt ər nɪŋ/
a design or decoration formed by the creative arrangement or formation of patterns.
the following of a specific pattern of movement, as in a dance or exercise:
the floor patterning of a folk dance.
a system of physical therapy in which a pattern of specific movements is practiced or imposed regularly as a way of improving, restoring, or stimulating muscular coordination, especially in brain-damaged or disabled persons.
Origin of patterning
First recorded in 1860-65; pattern + -ing1
Related forms
interpatterning, noun


[pat-ern; British pat-n] /ˈpæt ərn; British ˈpæt n/
a decorative design, as for wallpaper, china, or textile fabrics, etc.
decoration or ornament having such a design.
a natural or chance marking, configuration, or design:
patterns of frost on the window.
a distinctive style, model, or form:
a new pattern of army helmet.
a combination of qualities, acts, tendencies, etc., forming a consistent or characteristic arrangement:
the behavior patterns of teenagers.
an original or model considered for or deserving of imitation:
Our constitution has been a pattern for those of many new republics.
anything fashioned or designed to serve as a model or guide for something to be made:
a paper pattern for a dress.
a sufficient quantity of material for making a garment.
the path of flight established for an aircraft approaching an airport at which it is to land.
a diagram of lines transmitted occasionally by a television station to aid in adjusting receiving sets; test pattern.
Metallurgy. a model or form, usually of wood or metal, used for giving the shape of the interior of a mold.
Numismatics. a coin, either the redesign of an existing piece or the model for a new one, submitted for authorization as a regular issue.
an example, instance, sample, or specimen.
Gunnery, Aerial Bombing.
  1. the distribution of strikes around a target at which artillery rounds have been fired or on which bombs have been dropped.
  2. a diagram showing such distribution.
verb (used with object)
to make or fashion after or according to a pattern.
to cover or mark with a pattern.
Chiefly British Dialect.
  1. to imitate.
  2. to attempt to match or duplicate.
verb (used without object)
to make or fall into a pattern.
1325-75; Middle English patron < Medieval Latin patrōnus model, special use of Latin patrōnus patron
Related forms
patternable, adjective
patterned, adjective
patterner, noun
patternless, adjective
patternlike, adjective
patterny, adjective
nonpatterned, adjective
repattern, verb (used with object)
semipatterned, adjective
subpattern, noun
unpatterned, adjective
1. figure. 4. kind, sort. 6. example, exemplar. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for patterning
Historical Examples
  • A patterning of thin bars, usually of stone, in a window or other opening.

    History of Ancient Art Franz von Reber
  • "You haven't offended me," he said, patterning his response upon the White Queen.

    Little Miss Grouch Samuel Hopkins Adams
  • China has done away with the old educational regime and is patterning her new system after those of Christian lands.

    The Child in the Midst Mary Schauffler Labaree
  • So I put the facts to her as fair and calm as I could, patterning after Saxton's method.

    Plain Mary Smith Henry Wallace Phillips
  • The patterning of the life after its ideal is most seriously undertaken, even to imitation of personal mannerisms.

    The Unfolding Life Antoinette Abernethy Lamoreaux
  • He finished with scrupulous minuteness, and was elaborate in decorations of patterning, gilding, &c.

  • We now learn that it has also a definite feeling for patterning on the level of grammatical formation.

    Language Edward Sapir
  • Even in the enlargement and training of her army she is patterning after Japan and employing Japanese drill masters.

    The Old World and Its Ways William Jennings Bryan
  • Shutting your eyes to the obvious is only patterning after the ostrich.

    Selina George Madden Martin
  • It had continued to evolve and, patterning itself on the progress of the century, had advanced parallel with the other arts.

    Against The Grain Joris-Karl Huysmans
British Dictionary definitions for patterning


an arrangement of repeated or corresponding parts, decorative motifs, etc: although the notes seemed random, a careful listener could detect a pattern
a decorative design: a paisley pattern
a style: various patterns of cutlery
a plan or diagram used as a guide in making something: a paper pattern for a dress
a standard way of moving, acting, etc: traffic patterns
a model worthy of imitation: a pattern of kindness
a representative sample
a wooden or metal shape or model used in a foundry to make a mould
  1. the arrangement of marks made in a target by bullets
  2. a diagram displaying such an arrangement
verb (transitive)
often foll by after or on. to model
to arrange as or decorate with a pattern
Word Origin
C14 patron, from Medieval Latin patrōnus example, from Latin: patron1


(Irish) an outdoor assembly with religious practices, traders' stalls, etc on the feast day of a patron saint
Word Origin
C18: variant of patron1; see pattern1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for patterning



early 14c., "outline, plan, model, pattern;" early 15c. as "model of behavior, exemplar," from Old French patron and directly from Medieval Latin patronus (see patron).

Extended sense of "decorative design" first recorded 1580s, from earlier sense of a "patron" as a model to be imitated. The difference in form and sense between patron and pattern wasn't firm till 1700s. Meaning "model or design in dressmaking" (especially one of paper) is first recorded 1792, in Jane Austen.


1580s, "to make a pattern for, design, plan," from pattern (n.). Meaning "to make something after a pattern" is c.1600. Phrase pattern after "take as a model" is from 1878.



1580s, "to make a pattern for, design, plan," from pattern (n.). Meaning "to make something after a pattern" is c.1600. Phrase pattern after "take as a model" is from 1878.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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patterning in Medicine

patterning pat·tern·ing (pāt'ər-nĭng)
A method of physical therapy in which a rigid pattern of exercises is imposed to stimulate weak or paralyzed nerves and muscles to act on their own.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for patterning


Related Terms

in a holding pattern

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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