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

Examples from the Web for prefigurement

Historical Examples of prefigurement

  • In prefigurement of the Wandering Jew, each day he moved on.

  • If the prefigurement was at any point vague it was none the less arresting.

    Gideon's Band

    George W. Cable

  • In each of these existences the larva or mask is the prefigurement of the succeeding existence.

    The Insect

    Jules Michelet

  • It was not quite easy to see why this had been the case—it had not been precisely Peter's own prefigurement.

    The Tragic Muse

    Henry James

British Dictionary definitions for prefigurement


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 prefigurement



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