Definition of figuration in US English:



  • 1Ornamentation by means of figures or designs.

    • ‘In the history of ornament it is descriptive or illusionistic figuration that is aberrant.’
    • ‘These transformations of nature into pattern, of narrative into schema, of figuration into device are what gives ornament its authentic character.’
    • ‘This new emphasis on figuration also led to a flowering in the production of illustrated manuscripts from the thirteenth century onward.’
    1. 1.1Music The use of florid counterpoint.
      ‘the figuration of the accompaniment comes out too strongly’
      • ‘Throughout the concerto, the soloist is put through his paces with miles of finger-bending figurations.’
      • ‘By the second movement they had gained impetus, each variation infused with poise and delicacy, especially the leader's virtuoso figuration and Emma Denton's eloquent cello theme.’
      • ‘The music is certainly not immune from figuration that assists finger dexterity, but it is polished less for fingers and more for ears.’
      • ‘Finally, a brisk march-like statement expands with changing figuration and buoyant mood to a scintillating finale.’
      • ‘Its figuration, design and style are comparable to similar works by North German composers of the late seventeenth century.’
  • 2Allegorical representation.

    ‘the figuration of “The Possessed” is much more complex’
    ‘the opening parable may be read as a figuration of the main idea behind the novel’
    • ‘This figuration needs to be balanced with ‘a consideration of the protensive dimension of the living through of embodied norms in praxis’.’
    • ‘The plinth becomes the very figuration of what cannot be figured.’
    • ‘Curiosity also connects the allegorical figuration of Nell's story and the novel's anti-didactic agenda.’
    • ‘It is not so much the use of language that Rousseau deplores - even less of figurative language, since figuration represents for Rousseau the form under which language first appeared.’
    • ‘The self's figuration as a trajectory that collapses or can't move ahead finds its formal parallel in Jarnot's insistent, incessant use of repetition, anaphora, litany, and incantation.’
    • ‘Yet it is not capitalism but Protest itself which depends upon this figuration of the Father.’
    • ‘But the article puts up a convincing case that what is ‘bodily or emotional figuration for us, preserved metaphors of somatic consciousness, was the literal stuff of psychological theory for early modern scriptors of the body’.’
    • ‘The winning poem of this year's Boston Review poetry contest is an extended dramatic meditation on problems and principles of owing and figuration.’
    • ‘When watching this scene, the spectator cannot but be conscious of a figuration of ‘repression’.’
    • ‘This figuration of temporality by the spatial sequence of the words on the page is often, in turn, emblematized in narratives by the actual journeys upon which their characters embark.’
    • ‘The crystalline mirror reminds us that the images of the dream vision are not mimetic representations but allegorical figurations.’
    • ‘[The] figuration of the rhizome, then, allows me to think outside systems, outside order, outside stability.’


Middle English (in the senses ‘outline’ and ‘making of arithmetical figures’): from Latin figuratio(n-), from figurare ‘to form or fashion’, from figura (see figure).