# Number vs. Figure — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on October 25, 2023
A "number" refers to a mathematical value or quantity, while a "figure" can mean a numerical symbol or a person's shape.

## Key Differences

The term "number" is commonly used to refer to a mathematical concept that indicates quantity, order, or measurement. Whether it's whole numbers, fractions, or decimals, "numbers" are foundational to mathematics. In contrast, "figure" can pertain to a particular numerical symbol, especially in contexts like statistics or finance. Here, "figure" might denote a specific value or monetary amount.
In everyday language, "number" can be used more broadly, referring to not just mathematical values but also to signify an unspecified amount or order in a series. You might hear phrases like "a number of people" or "the number three bus". On the other hand, "figure" extends beyond numerals. It can describe the shape or form of something, especially a human body. Comments about a person's "figure" generally relate to their physique.
Within literature or more formal contexts, "number" might denote a rhythmic meter in poetry or a song in a musical. Here, it becomes a synonym for a musical piece or performance. "Figure", in a different vein, can also relate to a character or representation in art, like a figure in a painting or sculpture.
To encapsulate, while both "number" and "figure" can relate to mathematical values, their usages branch out distinctly. "Number" leans towards mathematical and ordered contexts, while "figure" stretches into representations of form, shape, and character.

## Comparison Chart

### Primary Meaning

A mathematical value or quantity.
A numerical symbol or a person's shape.

### Usage in Language

Refers to quantity, order, or an unspecified amount.
Can denote a specific value or represent form.

### Context in Arts

Might refer to a rhythmic meter or a song.
A character or representation in art.

### Relation to Humans

Doesn't usually describe humans directly.
Often relates to a person's physique.

### Flexibility in Interpretation

Generally stays within the realm of quantity and sequence.
Can imply both numerical value and physical shape.

## Compare with Definitions

#### Number

A mathematical value representing quantity.
The number of attendees exceeded expectations.

#### Figure

A numerical symbol.
The company reached a seven-figure profit.

#### Number

A position in a sequential order.
She was number three in line.

#### Figure

A person's bodily shape or form.
The dress flattered her figure.

#### Number

A number is a mathematical object used to count, measure, and label. The original examples are the natural numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and so forth.

#### Figure

An important person.
She's a prominent figure in politics.

#### Number

A member of the set of positive integers; one of a series of symbols of unique meaning in a fixed order that can be derived by counting.

#### Figure

A written or printed symbol representing something other than a letter, especially a number.

#### Number

A member of any of the following sets of mathematical objects
Integers, rational numbers, real numbers, and complex numbers. These sets can be derived from the positive integers through various algebraic and analytic constructions.

#### Figure

Figures Mathematical calculations
Good at figures.

#### Number

Numbers Arithmetic.

#### Figure

An amount represented in numbers
Sold for a large figure.

#### Number

A symbol or word used to represent a number.

#### Figure

Figures One of the digits specified as making up a larger number
A salary in the six figures.

#### Number

A numeral or a series of numerals used for reference or identification
His telephone number.
The apartment number.

#### Figure

(Mathematics) A geometric form consisting of any combination of points, lines, or planes
A triangle is a plane figure.

#### Number

A position in an ordered sequence that corresponds to one of the positive integers
The house that is number three from the corner.
Ranked number six in her class.

#### Figure

The outline, form, or silhouette of a thing
Saw the figure of a cat in the window.

#### Number

One item in a group or series considered to be in numerical order
An old number of a magazine.

#### Figure

The shape or form of a human body
A fashion model with an attractive figure.

#### Number

A total; a sum
The number of feet in a mile.

#### Figure

An indistinct object or shape
The figures in the mist turned out to be lampposts.

#### Number

An indefinite quantity of units or individuals
The crowd was small in number. A number of people complained.

#### Figure

A person, especially a well-known one
A famous historical figure.

#### Number

A large quantity; a multitude
Numbers of people visited the fair.

#### Figure

Cut a dashing figure at the reception.

#### Number

Numerical superiority

#### Figure

A person, animal, or object that symbolizes something.

#### Number

(Grammar) The indication, as by inflection, of the singularity, duality, or plurality of a linguistic form.

#### Figure

A pictorial or sculptural representation, especially of the human body.

#### Number

Metrical feet or lines; verses
"These numbers will I tear, and write in prose" (Shakespeare).

#### Figure

A diagram
Drew a figure of the office layout.

#### Number

(Obsolete) Poetic meter.

#### Figure

A design or pattern, as in a textile
Silk with a paisley figure.

#### Number

Numbers(Archaic) Musical periods or measures.

#### Number

Numbers (used with a sing. or pl. verb) Games A numbers game.

#### Figure

A configuration or distinct group of steps in a dance.

#### Number

Numbers (used with a sing. verb) See Table at Bible.

#### Figure

A pattern traced by a series of movements, as in ice skating.

#### Number

One of the separate offerings in a program of music or other entertainment
The band's second number was a march.

#### Figure

(Music) A brief melodic or harmonic unit often constituting the basis of a larger phrase or structure.

#### Number

(Slang) A frequently repeated, characteristic speech, argument, or performance
Suspects doing their usual number—protesting innocence.

#### Figure

(Logic) Any one of the forms that a syllogism can take, given one of the four possible arrangements of the middle term.

#### Number

(Slang) A person or thing singled out for a particular characteristic
A crafty number.

#### Figure

(Mathematics) To calculate with numbers
Figured the sum to be nearly a million.

#### Number

To assign a number to or mark with a number
Did you number the pages of the report?.

#### Figure

To make a likeness of; depict.

#### Number

To determine the number or amount of; count
Tickets sold for the show were numbered at 500.

#### Figure

To adorn with a design or figures.

#### Number

To total in number or amount; add up to
The ships in the harbor number around 100.

#### Figure

To write a sequence of conventionalized numbers below or above (the bassline) to indicate harmony.

#### Number

To include in a group or category
He was numbered among the lost.

#### Figure

To embellish with an ornamental pattern.

#### Number

To limit or restrict in number
Our days are numbered.

#### Figure

To conclude, believe, or predict
I never figured that this would happen.

#### Number

To call off numbers; count
Numbering to ten.

#### Figure

To consider or regard
Figured them as con artists.

#### Number

To have as a total; amount to a number
The applicants numbered in the thousands.

#### Figure

(Mathematics) To calculate; compute.

#### Number

(countable) An abstract entity used to describe quantity.
Zero, one, −1, 2.5, and pi are all numbers.

#### Figure

To be or seem important or prominent
A key fact that figures in our understanding of what happened.

#### Number

(countable) A numeral: a symbol for a non-negative integer.
The number 8 is usually made with a single stroke.

#### Figure

To be pertinent or involved
His advice barely figured in my decision.

#### Number

An element of one of several sets: natural numbers, integers, rational numbers, real numbers, complex numbers, and sometimes extensions such as hypercomplex numbers, etc.
The equation $e^\left\{i\pi\right\}+1=0$ includes the most important numbers: 1, 0, $\pi$, $i$, and $e$.

#### Figure

(Informal) To seem reasonable or expected
“I found my keys in the sofa.” “Well, that figures, given that you were sitting there last night.”.

#### Number

(Followed by a numeral; used attributively) Indicating the position of something in a list or sequence. Abbreviations: No or No., no or no. (in each case, sometimes written with a superscript "o", like Nº or №). The symbol "#" is also used in this manner.
Horse number 5 won the race.

#### Figure

A drawing or diagram conveying information.

#### Number

Quantity.
Any number of people can be reading from a given repository at a time.

#### Figure

The representation of any form, as by drawing, painting, modelling, carving, embroidering, etc.; especially, a representation of the human body.
A figure in bronze; a figure cut in marble

#### Number

A sequence of digits and letters used to register people, automobiles, and various other items.
Her passport number is C01X864TN.

#### Figure

A person or thing representing a certain consciousness.

#### Number

A telephone number.

#### Figure

The appearance or impression made by the conduct or career of a person.
He cut a sorry figure standing there in the rain.

#### Number

(grammar) Of a word or phrase, the state of being singular, dual or plural, shown by inflection.
Adjectives and nouns should agree in gender, number, and case.

#### Figure

(obsolete) Distinguished appearance; magnificence; conspicuous representation; splendour; show.

#### Number

Poetic metres; verses, rhymes.

#### Figure

A human figure, which dress or corset must fit to; the shape of a human body.

#### Number

(countable) A performance; especially, a single song or song and dance routine within a larger show.
For his second number, he sang "The Moon Shines Bright".

A numeral.

A person.

#### Figure

A number, an amount.

#### Number

An item of clothing, particularly a stylish one.

#### Figure

A shape.
A geometrical figure, a plane figure, a solid figure

#### Number

A marijuana cigarette, or joint; also, a quantity of marijuana bought from a dealer.

#### Figure

A visible pattern as in wood or cloth.
The muslin was of a pretty figure.''

#### Number

(dated) An issue of a periodical publication.
The latest number of a magazine

#### Figure

Any complex dance moveW.

#### Number

A large amount, in contrast to a smaller amount; numerical preponderance.

#### Figure

A figure of speech.

#### Number

A large amount of damage

#### Figure

(logic) The form of a syllogism with respect to the relative position of the middle term.

#### Number

(transitive) To label (items) with numbers; to assign numbers to (items).
Number the baskets so that we can find them easily.

#### Figure

(astrology) A horoscope; the diagram of the aspects of the astrological houses.

#### Number

(intransitive) To total or count; to amount to.
I don’t know how many books are in the library, but they must number in the thousands.

#### Figure

(music) Any short succession of notes, either as melody or as a group of chords, which produce a single complete and distinct impression.

#### Number

That which admits of being counted or reckoned; a unit, or an aggregate of units; a numerable aggregate or collection of individuals; an assemblage made up of distinct things expressible by figures.

#### Figure

(music) A form of melody or accompaniment kept up through a strain or passage; a motif; a florid embellishment.

#### Number

A collection of many individuals; a numerous assemblage; a multitude; many.
Ladies are always of great use to the party they espouse, and never fail to win over numbers.

#### Figure

To calculate, to solve a mathematical problem.

#### Number

A numeral; a word or character denoting a number; as, to put a number on a door.

#### Figure

To come to understand.
I can’t figure if he’s telling the truth or lying.

#### Number

Numerousness; multitude.
Number itself importeth not much in armies where the people are of weak courage.

#### Figure

To think, to assume, to suppose, to reckon.

#### Number

The state or quality of being numerable or countable.
Of whom came nations, tribes, people, and kindreds out of number.

#### Figure

To be reasonable.
It figures that somebody like him would be upset about the situation.

#### Number

Quantity, regarded as made up of an aggregate of separate things.

#### Figure

(intransitive) To enter into; to be a part of.

#### Number

That which is regulated by count; poetic measure, as divisions of time or number of syllables; hence, poetry, verse; - chiefly used in the plural.
I lisped in numbers, for the numbers came.

#### Figure

(obsolete) To represent by a figure, as to form or mould; to make an image of, either palpable or ideal; also, to fashion into a determinate form; to shape.

#### Number

The distinction of objects, as one, or more than one (in some languages, as one, or two, or more than two), expressed (usually) by a difference in the form of a word; thus, the singular number and the plural number are the names of the forms of a word indicating the objects denoted or referred to by the word as one, or as more than one.

#### Figure

To embellish with design; to adorn with figures.

#### Number

The measure of the relation between quantities or things of the same kind; that abstract species of quantity which is capable of being expressed by figures; numerical value.

#### Figure

(obsolete) To indicate by numerals.

#### Number

To count; to reckon; to ascertain the units of; to enumerate.
If a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.

#### Figure

To represent by a metaphor; to signify or symbolize.

#### Number

To reckon as one of a collection or multitude.
He was numbered with the transgressors.

#### Figure

(obsolete) To prefigure; to foreshow.

#### Number

To give or apply a number or numbers to; to assign the place of in a series by order of number; to designate the place of by a number or numeral; as, to number the houses in a street, or the apartments in a building.

#### Figure

(music) To write over or under the bass, as figures or other characters, in order to indicate the accompanying chords.

#### Number

To amount; to equal in number; to contain; to consist of; as, the army numbers fifty thousand.
Thy tears can not number the dead.

#### Figure

(music) To embellish.

#### Number

The property possessed by a sum or total or indefinite quantity of units or individuals;
He had a number of chores to do
The number of parameters is small
The figure was about a thousand

#### Figure

The form of anything; shape; outline; appearance.
Flowers have all exquisite figures.

#### Number

A concept of quantity derived from zero and units;
Every number has a unique position in the sequence

#### Figure

The representation of any form, as by drawing, painting, modeling, carving, embroidering, etc.; especially, a representation of the human body; as, a figure in bronze; a figure cut in marble.
A coin that bears the figure of an angel.

#### Number

A short theatrical performance that is part of a longer program;
He did his act three times every evening
She had a catchy little routine
It was one of the best numbers he ever did

#### Figure

A pattern in cloth, paper, or other manufactured article; a design wrought out in a fabric; as, the muslin was of a pretty figure.

#### Number

A numeral or string of numerals that is used for identification;
She refused to give them her Social Security number

#### Figure

A diagram or drawing, made to represent a magnitude or the relation of two or more magnitudes; a surface or space inclosed on all sides; - called superficial when inclosed by lines, and solid when inclosed by surfaces; any arrangement made up of points, lines, angles, surfaces, etc.

#### Number

The number is used in calling a particular telephone;
He has an unlisted number

#### Figure

The appearance or impression made by the conduct or career of a person; as, a sorry figure.
Gentlemen of the best figure in the county.

#### Number

A symbol used to represent a number;
He learned to write the numerals before he went to school

#### Figure

Distinguished appearance; magnificence; conspicuous representation; splendor; show.
That he may live in figure and indulgence.

#### Number

One of a series published periodically;
She found an old issue of the magazine in her dentist's waitingroom

#### Figure

A character or symbol representing a number; a numeral; a digit; as, 1, 2,3, etc.

#### Number

A select company of people;
I hope to become one of their number before I die

#### Figure

Value, as expressed in numbers; price; as, the goods are estimated or sold at a low figure.
With nineteen thousand a year at the very lowest figure.

#### Number

The grammatical category for the forms of nouns and pronouns and verbs that are used depending on the number of entities involved (singular or dual or plural);
In English the subject and the verb must agree in number

#### Figure

A person, thing, or action, conceived of as analogous to another person, thing, or action, of which it thus becomes a type or representative.
Who is the figure of Him that was to come.

#### Number

An item of merchandise offered for sale;
She preferred the black nylon number
This sweater is an all-wool number

#### Figure

A mode of expressing abstract or immaterial ideas by words which suggest pictures or images from the physical world; pictorial language; a trope; hence, any deviation from the plainest form of statement. Also called a figure of speech.
To represent the imagination under the figure of a wing.

#### Number

A clothing measurement;
A number 13 shoe

#### Figure

The form of a syllogism with respect to the relative position of the middle term.

#### Number

Add up in number or quantity;
The bills amounted to $2,000 The bill came to$2,000

#### Figure

Any one of the several regular steps or movements made by a dancer.

#### Number

Give numbers to;
You should number the pages of the thesis

#### Figure

A horoscope; the diagram of the aspects of the astrological houses.

#### Number

Enumerate;
We must number the names of the great mathematicians

#### Figure

Any short succession of notes, either as melody or as a group of chords, which produce a single complete and distinct impression.

#### Number

Put into a group;
The academy counts several Nobel Prize winners among its members

#### Figure

A form of melody or accompaniment kept up through a strain or passage; a musical phrase or motive; a florid embellishment.

#### Number

Determine the number or amount of;
Can you count the books on your shelf?

#### Figure

To represent by a figure, as to form or mold; to make an image of, either palpable or ideal; also, to fashion into a determinate form; to shape.
If love, alas! be pain I bear,
No thought can figure, and no tongue declare.Prior.

#### Number

Place a limit on the number of

#### Figure

To embellish with design; to adorn with figures.
The vaulty top of heavenFigured quite o'er with burning meteors.

#### Number

An unspecified amount.
A number of students failed the test.

#### Figure

To indicate by numerals; also, to compute.
As through a crystal glass the figured hours are seen.

#### Number

A rhythmic meter in poetry.
The poem's number was lilting and soft.

#### Figure

To represent by a metaphor; to signify or symbolize.
Whose white vestments figure innocence.

#### Number

A song in a musical.
The opening number was spectacular.

#### Figure

To prefigure; to foreshow.
In this the heaven figures some event.

#### Figure

To write over or under the bass, as figures or other characters, in order to indicate the accompanying chords.

#### Figure

To make a figure; to be distinguished or conspicious; as, the envoy figured at court.
Sociable, hospitable, eloquent, admired, figuring away brilliantly.

#### Figure

To calculate; to contrive; to scheme; as, he is figuring to secure the nomination.

#### Figure

A diagram or picture illustrating textual material;
The area covered can be seen from Figure 2

#### Figure

Alternative names for the body of a human being;
Leonardo studied the human body
He has a strong physique
The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak

#### Figure

One of the elements that collectively form a system of numbers;
0 and 1 are digits

#### Figure

A model of a bodily form (especially of a person);
He made a figure of Santa Claus

#### Figure

A well-known or notable person;
They studied all the great names in the history of France
She is an important figure in modern music

#### Figure

A combination of points and lines and planes that form a visible palpable shape

#### Figure

An amount of money expressed numerically;
A figure of \$17 was suggested

#### Figure

The impression produced by a person;
He cut a fine figure
A heroic figure

#### Figure

The property possessed by a sum or total or indefinite quantity of units or individuals;
He had a number of chores to do
The number of parameters is small
The figure was about a thousand

#### Figure

Language used in a figurative or nonliteral sense

#### Figure

A unitary percept having structure and coherence that is the object of attention and that stands out against a ground

#### Figure

A decorative or artistic work;
The coach had a design on the doors

#### Figure

A predetermined set of movements in dancing or skating;
She made the best score on compulsory figures

#### Figure

Judge to be probable

#### Figure

Be or play a part of or in;
Elections figure prominently in every government program
How do the elections figure in the current pattern of internal politics?

#### Figure

Imagine; conceive of; see in one's mind;
I can't see him on horseback!
I can see what will happen
I can see a risk in this strategy

#### Figure

Make a mathematical calculation or computation

#### Figure

Understand;
He didn't figure her

#### Figure

A representation or character in art.
The figure in the painting seemed lifelike.

#### Figure

A diagram or illustrative drawing.
Refer to figure 3 for more details.

## Common Curiosities

#### Can "number" refer to a song in a musical?

Yes, "number" can denote a musical piece or performance in this context.

#### Is a "six-figure" salary about a specific person's shape?

No, "six-figure" in this context refers to a salary amount in the hundreds of thousands.

#### Is a statue a "figure"?

Yes, a statue can be described as a "figure" as it represents a form or character in art.

#### Can a "number" be fractional?

Yes, numbers include whole numbers, fractions, decimals, and more.

#### What does it mean to "figure out" something?

It means to understand or find a solution to a problem, unrelated to the word's numerical or shape connotations.

#### Can a person be a "figure"?

Yes, a notable or prominent person can be referred to as a "figure" in certain contexts.

#### Does "figure" always refer to numbers?

No, "figure" can also relate to a person's shape, a character in art, or a diagram.

#### Can "number" refer to a person's physique?

Typically, no. "Figure" is more commonly used in this context.

#### Is every "number" a "figure"?

Not necessarily. While every numerical value is a number, "figure" often denotes specific numerical symbols or values in certain contexts.

#### Are "number" and "figure" interchangeable?

While they have overlapping meanings in some contexts, they aren't always interchangeable due to their distinct nuances.

#### Can "number" mean a rhythmic pattern in poetry?

Yes, "number" can refer to a rhythmic meter in poetic contexts.

#### Can "figure" relate to diagrams?

Yes, "figure" can also mean a diagram or illustrative drawing, especially in academic texts.

#### Why might someone mention a "figure" in fashion?

They could be referring to a person's physique or bodily shape.

#### Do "number" and "figure" have identical meanings in mathematics?

Not always. While both can relate to values, "figure" often denotes specific numerical symbols.

#### Is "number" always related to mathematics?

Mostly, but it can also refer to a position in a sequence or even a song in a musical.

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