Definition of figural in English:



  • 1

    another term for figurative (sense 1))
    • ‘‘Origin’ is thus a figural reiteration of what has always been emerging in and through the walls: Otherness wherein humanity appears as animality postponed.’
    • ‘Her metaphor made a figural comparison of not having a car with a handicapping condition.’
    • ‘So, Haven signifies both promise and threat, encapsulating the figural and the literal meanings of Jerusalem.’
    • ‘The myth/fable combination therefore lets us ally two poetic visions of the world, one figural and the other metaphorical.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It is a positive contribution to the discussions of Jewish-Christian exegesis and figural reading now taking place.’
    • ‘Fear, she argues, is the flight from suspended meaning, from figural distrust, toward literal reference to a locus of ‘danger.’’
    • ‘Chronology is the structural correlative of the necessarily figural nature of literary language .’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He is famous for his distinctions and subheadings as well as his figural use of scriptural language.’
    • ‘Tellingly, post-Reformation and modern exegetes have treated figural exegesis as dangerously open-ended and have strictly limited its use.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘However, James's figural use of textuality both produces and justifies a reader's instinctive preference for Ralph.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘Sacks focuses on how elegies, through the use of figural language and by making recourse to techniques like repetition, defer death.’
    • ‘But there is also a political and social purpose to his scholarship: figural interpretation often had, he shows, more than just hermeneutic consequences.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Once such concepts are used metaphorically, as they are throughout The Old Manor House, their purely figural character becomes apparent as such.’
    • ‘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.’
    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 Paulinian mirror is itself a figure for our inherently figural, mediated apprehension of God, the ultimate Truth.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 texts themselves display a transposition from the literal to the figural levels of discourse.’
  • 2Art

    another term for figurative (sense 2))


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