Definition of figural in English:



  • 1

    another term for figurative
    • ‘Fading in and out of these plasterlike surfaces are Lee's personal hieroglyphs of drawn and painted figural and insect forms.’
    • ‘Sears continued to win significant prizes for her figural work throughout the decade, but she also began to turn her attention toward another mode of artistic expression-photography.’
    • ‘Historically, highlands people did little figural carving, though bows and arrows carved with small geometric motifs were common.’
    • ‘These objects were often decorated with figural motifs including dancing maidens, birds, or baskets of flowers.’
    • ‘In this case, internal evidence indicates that the writing, ornament, and figural paintings were all executed by a single hand.’
    1. 1.1 (in postmodernist writing) relating to or denoting a form of signification which relies on imagery and association rather than on rational and linguistic concepts.
      • ‘Various motifs, figural echoes, and symmetries have a fugitive presence in the film: they come and go, never entirely gathering all the fragments into a reassuring whole.’
      • ‘The Paulinian mirror is itself a figure for our inherently figural, mediated apprehension of God, the ultimate Truth.’
      • ‘Our received knowledge is that film is primarily a ‘visual’ medium; ergo, its represented references and appeal to most of our other senses are understood as figural rather than literal.’
      • ‘The texts themselves display a transposition from the literal to the figural levels of discourse.’
      • ‘Did you begin with the notion of a ‘sonnet’ sequence and use it as the container into which figural patterns were discharged, or did the writing seem to insist on certain formal conditions as you proceeded and revised?’


Late Middle English: from Old French, or from late Latin figuralis, from figura ‘form, shape’ (see figure).