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

  • n. The act of representing, suggesting, or imagining in advance.
  • n. Something that prefigures; a foreshadowing.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A vague advance representation or suggestion of something.
  • n. Something that prefigures.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act of prefiguring, or the state of being prefigured.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The act of prefiguring, or the state of being prefigured; antecedent representation by similitude.

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

  • n. the act of providing vague advance indications; representing beforehand
  • n. an example that prefigures or foreshadows what is to come


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Late Latin praefigurationem, nominative form of praefiguratio.


  • From this, and from the many groans and sighs that are reported of the boy (who still struggled to keep reading, an activity feared and despised by his father, as it was by the owner of Frederick Douglass), we receive a prefiguration of the politician who declared in 1856, “I used to be a slave.”

    Lincoln’s Emancipation

  • Benedict XVI continued, saying that from the cross, Jesus sees his Mother and the beloved apostle, a very important individual, but more important he is a prefiguration of all loved people, all the disciples and especially all priests.

    The Papacy

  • I did, however, share a plane with Aaron Eckhart, and even though he's not exactly a superstar (at least not yet), the hard-working actor proved a fitting prefiguration to my trip.

    Morris Ruskin: My Toronto Film Festival

  • The ginger-haired baby Elizabeth is mainly a squalling infant in the period of the narrative, which chiefly covers the years 1527 – 35, but in the figure of her sibling Mary, one is given a chilling prefiguration of the coming time when the bonfires of English heretics will really start to blaze in earnest.

    The Men Who Made England

  • And here, too, is a prefiguration of Barack Obama, who made his career by insisting that there are no red states and blue states, only the United States.

    ‘On Whitman’: The Real American

  • Much like Pentecostalism is for Christianity, Islamism is a way station, a prefiguration of things to come.

    Michael Vlahos: America: Enemy of Change, Midwife of the Future

  • It was the prefiguration, the signpost up ahead that Rome had already fallen.

    Michael Vlahos: America: Enemy of Change, Midwife of the Future

  • He found it in the classicized expressionism of the "New Objectivity," an approach he helped create and promulgate, even beyond Germany's borders (and a phenomenon about which we in America are still too little apprised, even despite its influence on some of our favorite artists - look at Dix's own prefiguration of such popular latter-day artists as Lucien Freud and H.C. Westermann).

    Peter Frank: Blague d'Art: Dix's Mix (No Quick Fix)

  • Tapping again the relation of language to the unconscious, of sleep to poetry, her disappointed suitor Philip has a nightmare prefiguration of her elopement with Stephen, dreaming in lubricious glottal pulsations that "Maggie was slipping down a glistening, green, slimy channel of a waterfall, till he was awakened by what seemed a sudden, awful crash"

    Phonemanography: Romantic to Victorian

  • Later she felt ashamed that she had resorted to borrowed words — that she had used those of Simone Weil, whose life she had come to see as a prefiguration of her own.

    A Theology of Anorexia


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