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[pree-fig-yer] /priˈfɪg yər/
verb (used with object), prefigured, prefiguring.
to show or represent beforehand by a figure or type; foreshadow.
to picture or represent to oneself beforehand; imagine.
Origin of prefigure
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Late Latin praefigūrāre. See pre-, figure (v.)
Related forms
[pree-fig-yer-uh-tiv] /priˈfɪg yər ə tɪv/ (Show IPA),
prefiguratively, adverb
prefigurativeness, noun
prefigurement, noun
unprefigured, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for prefigure
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The twilight seemed to prefigure the fading of the human race.

    Melomaniacs James Huneker
  • And now that she could begin to sit up it did prefigure recovery.

    A Little Girl in Old Salem

    Amanda Minnie Douglas
  • We must see him through some lenses—we must prefigure his immortality.

  • If Manuel had overheard, it was comparatively easy to prefigure his next step.

    The King of Arcadia Francis Lynde
  • Does it not prefigure the wayward and fantastic progress of a storm-tossed life?

    Z. Marcas Honore de Balzac
  • Nothing, certes, in nature can surpass this scene; no imagination can prefigure, no pen or pencil adequately portray it.

    The Roof of France Matilda Betham-Edwards
  • The most terrifying metaphors are used to prefigure the judgments which will then be executed on mankind.

  • Now follows a series of miraculous signs, prodigies, mad doings, which prefigure the coming destruction.

    Homer's Odyssey Denton J. Snider
  • There is no trace of a capillitium, unless a few occasional threads in the wall of Tubulina prefigure such a structure.

British Dictionary definitions for prefigure


verb (transitive)
to represent or suggest in advance
to imagine or consider beforehand
Derived Forms
prefigurement, noun
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 prefigure

early 15c., from Late Latin praefigurare "to prefigure," from Latin prae "before" (see pre-) + figurare "to form, shape," from figura "a shape, form, figure" (see figure (n.)). Related: Prefigured; prefiguring.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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