Definition of significant figure in US English:

significant figure

(also significant digit)


  • Each of the digits of a number that are used to express it to the required degree of accuracy, starting from the first nonzero digit.

    ‘this text will round numbers to three significant figures’
    • ‘Thus, as you have pointed out several times - one good indication of false or fudged data is that the data is too good - too many straight lines, and too many significant figures.’
    • ‘However, his lesson could hardly have been more effective; I don't think that I have ever since quoted the result of a calculation to other than the correct number of significant figures.’
    • ‘They were so fussy about grading that you got knocked down a point for using a different number of significant figures in your uncertainties and your measurements.’
    • ‘Although the technique may sound simple in its principles, getting results accurate to 11 significant figures is not a project for a high school science fair.’
    • ‘As a result of these simplifications, we cannot expect our dipole strengths to be accurate to better than perhaps two significant figures (although the calculations have been carried out with more).’


significant figure

/sɪɡˈnɪfɪkənt ˈfɪɡjər/