from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The act of forming something into a particular shape.
  • n. A shape, form, or outline.
  • n. The act of representing with figures.
  • n. A figurative representation.
  • n. Music Ornamentation of a passage by embellishing and often repeating figures.
  • n. Music The pattern made by such embellishment or repetition.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The act of giving figure or determinate form; determination to a certain form.
  • n. Mixture of concords and discords.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act of giving figure or determinate form; determination to a certain form.
  • n. Mixture of concords and discords.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Formation as to figure or outline; external conformation; determination to a certain form: as, the figuration of crystals.
  • n. The act or process of figuring; a shaping into form, or a marking or impressing with a figure or figures.
  • n. In music: In strict composition, such as fugue-writing, the introduction of passing-notes into the counterpoint
  • n. In general composition, the process, act, or result of rhythmically, melodically, or contrapuntally varying or elaborating a theme by adding passing-notes or accompaniment figures, or even by transforming single tones into florid passages
  • n. The preparation of a figured bass (which see. under bass).
  • n. In phillol., change in the form of words without change of sense.
  • n. Figurative representation; prefiguration.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. representing figuratively as by emblem or allegory
  • n. decorating with a design


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • Where the figuration is less narrative and more cogitative, that streaming montage of icons is, of course, of less import.

    Notes on Notes

  • And indeed, Heller's figuration is such a functional idiom that it has been taken-up, used widely by people who may have never read the book, may not even know the origin of the term.

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  • Still, if figuration is the key function of narrative, the other functions are not wholly absent.

    Archive 2008-08-01

  • Not all figuration is metaphoric though; in metonymy, the process of interpretation is not based on resemblances but on other forms of association -- the association of a crown with a king, for example, such that we use the artefact as a metonymic stand-in for the person.

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  • Ultimately the subject may be so absented, suggested at the most liminal thematic level if at all, that the extended figuration is not read as metaphor at all; instead it is read as story.

    Archive 2008-08-01

  • Even when located within — though here too the figuration is sometimes cast as external, as it is in the wind — the source of poetry is far beyond the conscious control of the poet.

    Subjecticity (On Kant and the Texture of Romanticism)

  • Then dioceses refused to abandon their dependence on what the church calls "figuration" — a definitive model that gives worshipers clear-cut images to use for meditation and prayer rather than abstraction, which would force followers to search their own souls for the greater meaning.

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  • As champions of figuration they depicted the 1950s and 60s, and all the dreams and nightmares of a society being rebuilt.

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  • In the 1970s, Brooklyn native George McNeil abandoned abstraction for Neo-Expressionist figuration.

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  • In Kouros Gallery's concurrent solo surveys of two native New York artists, the painter, sculptor and printmaker Stanley Boxer (1926-2000) and the painter and illustrator Guy Danella (1928-2006), we move, through nearly two dozen pictures spanning half a century, from Impressionism, Cubism and biomorphic abstraction to Abstract Expressionism; from Symbolist- and Surrealist-inspired figuration to Color Field painting.

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