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

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on October 3, 2023
Number refers to a mathematical or quantitative representation, while Figure can mean a shape, person's form, or a numerical symbol.

## Key Differences

Number and Figure, two words intertwined in the realms of mathematics and linguistics, hold distinct meanings and applications. A Number primarily denotes a mathematical entity, a concept representing quantity or order. Whether whole, fractional, or negative, numbers are the backbone of arithmetic operations. On the contrary, Figure often describes a particular shape or form, but it can also refer to a numeral or a representation of statistical data.
Diving deeper, numbers serve as foundational elements across various disciplines, from physics to economics. They are abstract concepts signifying count, measurement, or position. Figures, while overlapping with numbers in contexts like "a seven-figure salary," tend to have a broader range, encompassing everything from a person's bodily form to a shape in geometry.
Interestingly, while numbers have clear hierarchies and classifications—natural numbers, real numbers, complex numbers, and so forth—figures' versatility renders them context-dependent. A figure in a dance refers to a series of movements, while in literature, a figure of speech denotes a rhetorical device.
In everyday parlance, we often hear "the numbers don't lie," suggesting that quantitative data is indisputable. Meanwhile, "she has a good figure" often describes someone's physique. Both words, though grounded in quantification, have branched out, influencing multiple facets of language and interpretation.

## Comparison Chart

### Primary Definition

A mathematical entity denoting quantity.
A shape or form; can also mean a numeral.

### Application in Language

Often quantitative, measurable.
Broad range; includes shapes, stats, or a person's physique.

### Context in Mathematics

Represents count, measurement, or position.
Refers to individual numerical symbols or statistical data.

### Literary Usage

Rarely used in metaphors.
Common in phrases like "figure of speech."

### Colloquial Expression

"The numbers don't lie."
"She has a good figure."

## Number and Figure Definitions

#### 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 numerical symbol, especially in mathematics.
Write down the figure 7.

#### 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

A diagram or illustrative drawing.
Refer to the figure on page 5.

#### Number

Numbers Arithmetic.

#### Figure

A representative form or pattern.
He couldn't figure out the pattern.

#### Number

A symbol or word used to represent a number.

#### Figure

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

#### Number

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

#### Figure

Figures Mathematical calculations
Good at figures.

#### 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

An amount represented in numbers
Sold for a large figure.

#### Number

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

#### Figure

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

#### Number

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

#### Figure

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

#### Number

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

#### Figure

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

#### Number

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

#### Figure

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

#### Number

Numerical superiority

#### Figure

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

#### Number

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

#### Figure

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

#### Number

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

#### Figure

Cut a dashing figure at the reception.

#### Number

(Obsolete) Poetic meter.

#### Figure

A person, animal, or object that symbolizes something.

#### Number

Numbers(Archaic) Musical periods or measures.

#### Figure

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

#### Number

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

#### Figure

A diagram
Drew a figure of the office layout.

#### Number

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

#### Figure

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

#### Number

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

#### Number

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

#### Figure

A configuration or distinct group of steps in a dance.

#### Number

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

#### Figure

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

#### Number

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

#### Figure

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

#### Number

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

#### Figure

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

#### Number

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

#### Figure

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

#### Number

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

#### Figure

To make a likeness of; depict.

#### Number

To limit or restrict in number
Our days are numbered.

#### Figure

To adorn with a design or figures.

#### Number

To call off numbers; count
Numbering to ten.

#### Figure

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

#### Number

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

#### Figure

To embellish with an ornamental pattern.

#### Number

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

#### Figure

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

#### Number

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

#### Figure

To consider or regard
Figured them as con artists.

#### 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

(Mathematics) To calculate; compute.

#### 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

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

#### Number

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

#### Figure

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

#### Number

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

#### 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

A telephone number.

#### Figure

A drawing or diagram conveying information.

#### 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

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

Poetic metres; verses, rhymes.

#### Figure

A person or thing representing a certain consciousness.

#### 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".

#### Figure

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

A person.

#### Figure

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

#### Number

An item of clothing, particularly a stylish one.

#### Figure

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

#### Number

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

A numeral.

#### Number

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

#### Figure

A number, an amount.

#### Number

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

#### Figure

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

#### Number

A large amount of damage

#### Figure

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

#### Number

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

#### Figure

Any complex dance moveW.

#### 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

A figure of speech.

#### 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

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

#### 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

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

#### Number

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

#### 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

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

#### Figure

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

#### Number

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

#### Figure

To calculate, to solve a mathematical problem.

#### Number

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

#### Figure

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

#### 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

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

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

#### 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

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

#### 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

(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

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

#### Figure

To embellish with design; to adorn with figures.

#### 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

(obsolete) To indicate by numerals.

#### 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

To represent by a metaphor; to signify or symbolize.

#### 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

(obsolete) To prefigure; to foreshow.

#### Number

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

#### Figure

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

#### 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

(music) To embellish.

#### Number

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

#### Figure

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

#### Number

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

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

#### 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

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

#### 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

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

#### 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

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

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

#### Number

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

#### Figure

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

#### Number

A clothing measurement;
A number 13 shoe

#### 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

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

#### 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

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

#### 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

Enumerate;
We must number the names of the great mathematicians

#### Figure

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

#### Number

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

#### Figure

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

#### Number

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

#### Figure

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

#### Number

Place a limit on the number of

#### Figure

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

#### Number

A mathematical concept representing quantity or sequence.
The number of apples in the basket is 12.

#### Figure

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

#### Number

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

#### 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

A way to classify or categorize.
His number was up.

#### Figure

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

#### Number

A code or identifier.
My phone number is 555-1234.

#### Figure

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

#### Number

A musical or dance performance piece.
They danced to a lively number.

#### Figure

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

#### 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 shape or form.
The figure in the painting is abstract.

#### Figure

A person's bodily shape or silhouette.
The actress maintained her figure through regular exercise.

## FAQs

#### Is "figure" always about shape?

No, it can refer to numerical symbols, stats, or even a person's physique.

#### Can "number" refer to non-mathematical things?

Yes, like a song or dance ("dance number").

#### What's a "figure of speech"?

A rhetorical device, like metaphors or similes.

#### Can a person be described as a "number"?

It's colloquial, as in "She's quite a number."

#### Do all numbers have figures?

In terms of representation, yes. "5" is the figure for the number five.

#### Are "double-digit numbers" the same as "double figures"?

Essentially, yes. Both refer to numbers from 10 to 99.

#### Are numbers always absolute?

No, they can be relative, like "a large number of apples."

#### Can a number be negative?

Yes, like -5 or -10.

#### Can "number" and "figure" be used interchangeably in math?

Sometimes, as in "seven-figure salary," but not always, as "number" often means quantity, while "figure" can mean a numeral.

#### Can "figure" refer to reputation?

Indirectly, as in "public figure."

#### Is "number" always singular?

No, "numbers" can refer to many quantities or numerical values.

#### What does "figure out" mean?

It means to understand or solve something.

#### Are all figures numbers?

Not necessarily. Figures can also mean shapes or diagrams.

#### Can "figure" refer to stature?

Yes, especially regarding a person's physical shape.

Someone prominent or influential in a specific field.

#### How is "number" used in clothing?

Informally, to describe a piece of clothing, as in "a cute number."

#### Can "figure" mean to think or ponder?

Yes, as in "trying to figure out a problem."

#### Is "numbered" the same as "counted"?

Mostly, but "numbered" can also mean something's days are limited.

#### Can "figure" mean estimate?

Yes, like "The figure we have is just an estimate."