1 noun (C)
a) a number representing an amount, especially an officially published number: keeping unemployment figures down
b) a number from 0 to 10, written as a sign rather than a word : a four/five/six figure number (=a number in the thousands, ten thousands, hundred thousands etc) | double figures (=numbers between 10 and 99): His score is now well into double figures.
2 AMOUNT OF MONEY a particular amount of money: an estimated figure of $200 million
3 father/mother/authority figure someone who is considered to be like a father etc, or to represent authority, because of their character or behaviour: He had always looked upon Sarah as a kind of mother figure.
4 figures (plural) the activity of adding, multiplying etc numbers; arithmetic : have a head for figures (=be good at arithmetic)
5 put a figure on it/give an exact figure to say exactly how much something is worth, or how much or how many of something you are talking about: I know it's worth a lot of money but I couldn't put a figure on it.
6 woman's body the shape of someone's body, especially a woman's body: She has a great figure. | keep your figure (=keep your body in an attractive shape): How does she manage to keep her figure when she eats so much?
—see body
7 KIND OF PERSON someone who has a particular type of character or appearance or who is important in a particular way: He was the outstanding political figure of his time. | She stood there, a frail but defiant figure.
—see also: cult figure cult (2)
8 a fine figure of a man/woman someone who is tall and has a good body
9 FAR AWAY/DIFFICULT TO SEE the shape of a person, especially one that is far away or is difficult to see: a dark figure in the distance
10 PAINTING/MODEL a person in a painting or model: an 18th century Maori figure
—see also: figurine
11 DRAWING a numbered drawing or a diagram in a book
12 MATHEMATICAL SHAPE a geometric shape: a hexagon is a six-sided figure
13 ON ICE a pattern formed in figure skating
14 a figure of fun someone who people laugh at
2 verb
1 (I) to be important in a process, event, or situation, and be noticed because of this: Kennedy's descendants were to figure prominently in the country's history.
2 (T) informal especially AmE to form a particular opinion after thinking about a situation : figure that: I figured that he was drunk and shouldn't be allowed to drive.
3 that figures/it figures spoken especially AmE
a) used when something happens or someone behaves in a way that you expect, but do not like: “It rained the whole weekend.” “Oh, that figures.”
b) used to say that something is reasonable or makes sense: If Terry has talked to Lennox, then he knows you are here. It figures.
4 (T) AmE to calculate an amount: Larry figured his expenses for the past month.
figure sth out phrasal verb (T) to think about a problem or situation until you find the answer or understand what has happened (+ how/what): Can you figure out how to do it? | figure sth out: It took me hours to figure those algebra problems out. | figure out that: She figured out that he was leaving on Tuesday. figure sb out phrasal verb (T) to understand why someone behaves in the way they do: Women. I just can't figure them out.

Longman dictionary of contemporary English. 2004.

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