verb (used with object), pre·fig·ured, pre·fig·ur·ing.

to show or represent beforehand by a figure or type; foreshadow.
to picture or represent to oneself beforehand; imagine.

Origin of prefigure

1400–50; late Middle English < Late Latin praefigūrāre. See pre-, figure (v.)
Related formspre·fig·ur·a·tive [pree-fig-yer-uh-tiv] /priˈfɪg yər ə tɪv/, adjectivepre·fig·ur·a·tive·ly, adverbpre·fig·ur·a·tive·ness, nounpre·fig·ure·ment, nounun·pre·fig·ured, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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British Dictionary definitions for prefigure


verb (tr)

to represent or suggest in advance
to imagine or consider beforehand
Derived Formsprefigurement, 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

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