verb (used with object), fig·ured, fig·ur·ing.
- to embellish with passing notes or other decorations.
- to write figures above or below (a bass part) to indicate accompanying chords.
verb (used without object), fig·ured, fig·ur·ing.
- to count or rely on.
- to take into consideration; plan on: You had better figure on running into heavy traffic leaving the city.
- to understand; solve: We couldn't figure out where all the money had gone.
- to calculate; compute.
Origin of figure
Synonyms for figure
- a person as impressed on the mindthe figure of Napoleon
- (in combination)father-figure
Word Origin for figure
late 14c., "to represent" (in a picture); see figure (n.). Meaning "to shape into" is early 15c.; "to picture in the mind" is from c.1600; "to make an appearance" is c.1600. Meaning "work out a sum" is from 1833, American English. Related: Figured; figuring.
early 13c., "visible form or appearance of a person," from Old French figure (10c.) "shape, body, form, figure; symbol, allegory," from Latin figura "a shape, form, figure," from PIE *dheigh- "to form, build" (see dough); originally in English with meaning "numeral," but sense of "form, likeness" is almost as old (mid-13c.).
Philosophical and scientific senses are from Latin figura being used to translate Greek skhema. The rhetorical use of figure dates to late 14c.; hence figure of speech (1824). Figure eight as a shape was originally figure of eight (c.1600).
Calculate, total, as in Please figure up just how many feet of lumber we need. [Late 1800s]
In addition to the idioms beginning with figure
- figure in
- figure on
- figure out
- figure up
- ballpark figure
- in round numbers (figures)
- it figures