Nearby words

  1. figurate number,
  2. figuration,
  3. figurative,
  4. figurative language,
  5. figuratively,
  6. figure and ground,
  7. figure eight,
  8. figure eight suture,
  9. figure in,
  10. figure of eight


    cut a figure. cut(defs 84, 85b).

Origin of figure

1175–1225; Middle English < Old French < Latin figūra shape, trope, equivalent to fig- (base of fingere to shape) + -ūra -ure

1. number. 2. sum, total; price. 5. See form. 8. personality. 23. reckon.

Related forms Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for figure out

figure out

verb (tr, adverb; may take a clause as object) informal

to calculate or reckon
to understand



any written symbol other than a letter, esp a whole number
another name for digit (def. 2)
an amount expressed numericallya figure of 1800 was suggested
(plural) calculations with numbershe's good at figures
visible shape or form; outline
the human form, esp as regards size or shapea girl with a slender figure
a slim bodily shape (esp in the phrases keep or lose one's figure)
a character or personage, esp a prominent or notable one; personalitya figure in politics
the impression created by a person through behaviour (esp in the phrase to cut a fine, bold, etc, figure)
  1. a person as impressed on the mindthe figure of Napoleon
  2. (in combination)father-figure
a representation in painting or sculpture, esp of the human form
an illustration or explanatory diagram in a text
a representative object or symbol; emblem
a pattern or design, as on fabric or in wood
a predetermined set of movements in dancing or skating
geometry any combination of points, lines, curves, or planes. A plane figure, such as a circle, encloses an area; a solid figure such as a sphere, encloses a volume
rhetoric See figure of speech
logic one of the four possible arrangements of the three terms in the premises of a syllogismCompare mood 2 (def. 2)
  1. a numeral written above or below a note in a partSee figured bass, thorough bass
  2. a characteristic short pattern of notes


(when tr, often foll by up) to calculate or compute (sums, amounts, etc)
(tr; usually takes a clause as object) informal, mainly US, Canadian and NZ to think or conclude; consider
(tr) to represent by a diagram or illustration
(tr) to pattern or mark with a design
(tr) to depict or portray in a painting, etc
(tr) rhetoric to express by means of a figure of speech
(tr) to imagine
(tr) music
  1. to decorate (a melody line or part) with ornamentation
  2. to provide figures above or below (a bass part) as an indication of the accompanying harmonies requiredSee figured bass, thorough bass
(intr usually foll by in) to be includedhis name figures in the article
(intr) informal to accord with expectation; be logicalit figures that he wouldn't come
go figure informal an expression of surprise, astonishment, wonder, etc

Derived Formsfigureless, adjectivefigurer, noun

Word Origin for figure

C13: from Latin figūra a shape, from fingere to mould

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

Word Origin and History for figure out
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for figure out




A form or shape, as of the human body.
A person representing the essential aspects of a particular role.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with figure out

figure out


Discover or determine, as in Let's figure out a way to help. [Early 1900s]


Solve or decipher, as in Can you figure out this puzzle? [Early 1800s]


In addition to the idioms beginning with figure

  • figure in
  • figure on
  • figure out
  • figure up

also see:

  • ballpark figure
  • in round numbers (figures)
  • it figures
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.