In this first set of sentences, the word "figure" is used as a verb and it means to think about something or to calculate:

  • He was able to figure out a solution to the problem. (Notice the preposition "out" is often used with "figure.")
  • I can’t figure this out. Can you help me?
  • When thinking about how much money you make every day, you have to figure in the cost of your travel expenses.
  • Mary thinks she has a good chance of getting the job, but how does she figure? She’s not qualified.
  • I have to buy a new transmission for my car after I just spent money to fix the engine. That figures. (This is an expression that means that’s the way it goes, or the odds are against me.)

There are many different ways to use the word "figure" as a noun:

  • That’s a very large figure. (figure = number)
  • She has a nice figure. (figure = body shape)
  • That’s just a figure of your imagination. (figure = a perception; a thought)
  • Elvis Presley was a notable figure in the development of rock’n’roll. (figure = important person)
  • This is just a figure of speech. (figure = an arrangement of words or an expression that has a particular meaning.)

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Published on March 26, 2012.