Definition of figural in English:



  • 1

    another term for figurative (sense 1))
    • ‘With Ralph Touchett, James uses the figural representation of textuality to control readers' response to him, and (at least in part) to exonerate his ethical failures.’
    • ‘Chronology is the structural correlative of the necessarily figural nature of literary language .’
    • ‘But there is also a political and social purpose to his scholarship: figural interpretation often had, he shows, more than just hermeneutic consequences.’
    • ‘To say that Robert's loss of moral memory is the figural apotheosis of the Kantian personality is not to suggest that Hogg's novel leaves that personality intact.’
    • ‘It is a positive contribution to the discussions of Jewish-Christian exegesis and figural reading now taking place.’
    • ‘Sacks focuses on how elegies, through the use of figural language and by making recourse to techniques like repetition, defer death.’
    • ‘Tellingly, post-Reformation and modern exegetes have treated figural exegesis as dangerously open-ended and have strictly limited its use.’
    • ‘The allegorical mode is grounded in the description of all language as figural and in the diachronic structure of the reflection that reveals this insight.’
    • ‘Thus the cloak again serves as a figural locus around which the tension between the constant dissimulation and disclosure of the love affair continue to build.’
    • ‘Fear, she argues, is the flight from suspended meaning, from figural distrust, toward literal reference to a locus of ‘danger.’’
    • ‘If subjectivity is permeable and vulnerable to revision, then a figural analogy between subjectivity and textuality portrays the task of one person ‘reading’ another as of urgent moral importance.’
    • ‘He is famous for his distinctions and subheadings as well as his figural use of scriptural language.’
    • ‘So, Haven signifies both promise and threat, encapsulating the figural and the literal meanings of Jerusalem.’
    • ‘Yes, perhaps we can see that a figural interpretation of the parable is an appropriate step, but what about the wholesale allegorization of all the details?’
    • ‘However, James's figural use of textuality both produces and justifies a reader's instinctive preference for Ralph.’
    • ‘Her metaphor made a figural comparison of not having a car with a handicapping condition.’
    • ‘The myth/fable combination therefore lets us ally two poetic visions of the world, one figural and the other metaphorical.’
    • ‘Once such concepts are used metaphorically, as they are throughout The Old Manor House, their purely figural character becomes apparent as such.’
    • ‘‘Origin’ is thus a figural reiteration of what has always been emerging in and through the walls: Otherness wherein humanity appears as animality postponed.’
    • ‘One of the ways in which this foreshadowing of Agnes's death is expressed in the poem is through the swan imagery so deeply embedded in the poem's figural texture.’
    1. 1.1 (in postmodernist writing) relating to or denoting a form of signification that relies on imagery and association rather than on rational and linguistic concepts.
      • ‘The texts themselves display a transposition from the literal to the figural levels of discourse.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘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.’
  • 2Art

    another term for figurative (sense 2))


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