From earlier patten, paterne, from Middle English patron (patron; example), from Old French patron, from Medieval Latin patrōnus (patron). Doublet of patron.



pattern (plural patterns)

  1. Model, example.
    1. Something from which a copy is made; a model or outline. [from 14th c.]
      • 1923, ‘President Wilson’, Time, 18 Jun 1923:
        There is no reason why all colleges and universities should be cut to the same pattern.
    2. Someone or something seen as an example to be imitated; an exemplar. [from 15th c.]
      • 1793, Hester Piozzi, Thraliana, 19 March:
        Well! the King of France died pardoning & pitying all those who had tortured his Soul & Body, a great Pattern for us all.
      • 1946, Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy, I.16:
        The Platonic Socrates was a pattern to subsequent philosophers for many ages.
    3. (now rare) A copy. [from 15th c.]
    4. (now only numismatics) A sample; of coins, an example which was struck but never minted. [from 16th c.]
    5. A representative example. [from 16th c.]
    6. (US) The material needed to make a piece of clothing. [from 17th c.]
    7. (textiles) The paper or cardboard template from which the parts of a garment are traced onto fabric prior to cutting out and assembling.
    8. (metalworking, dated) A full-sized model around which a mould of sand is made, to receive the melted metal. It is usually made of wood and in several parts, so as to be removed from the mould without damage.
    9. (computing) A text string containing wildcards, used for matching.
      There were no files matching the pattern *.txt.
  2. Coherent or decorative arrangement.
    1. A design, motif or decoration, especially formed from regular repeated elements. [from 16th c.]
      • 2003, Valentino, ‘Is there a future in fashion's past?’, Time, 5 Feb 2003:
        On my way to work the other day, I stopped at a church in Rome and saw a painting of the Madonna. The subtle pattern of blues and golds in the embroidery of her dress was so amazing that I used it to design a new evening dress for my haute couture.
    2. A naturally-occurring or random arrangement of shapes, colours etc. which have a regular or decorative effect. [from 19th c.]
      • 2011, Rachel Cooke, The Observer, 19 Jun 2011:
        He lifted the entire joint or fowl up into the air, speared on a carving fork, and sliced pieces off it so that they fell on the plate below in perfectly organised patterns.
    3. The given spread, range etc. of shot fired from a gun. [from 19th c.]
    4. A particular sequence of events, facts etc. which can be understood, used to predict the future, or seen to have a mathematical, geometric, statistical etc. relationship. [from 19th c.]
      • 1980, ‘Shifting Targets’, Time, 6 Oct 1980:
        The three killings pointed to an ugly new shift in the enduring pattern of violence in Northern Ireland: the mostly Protestant Ulster police, or those suspected of affiliation with them, have become more prominent targets for the I.R.A. than the British troops.
      • 2003, Kate Hudson, The Guardian, 14 Aug 2003:
        Look again at how the US and its allies behaved then, and the pattern is unmistakable.
    5. (linguistics) An intelligible arrangement in a given area of language.
    6. (computing, music) A sequence of notes, percussion etc. in a tracker module, usable once or many times within the song.
      • 2008, ‎Karen Collins, Game Sound (page 59)
        Pattern 10 is open in figure 3.9, showing the 64 notes in the pattern (each pattern in this song has 64 beats).
      • 2017, Gerard Goggin, ‎Mark McLelland, The Routledge Companion to Global Internet Histories (page 444)
        A MOD file contains a number of short audio samples, and instructions or a “pattern” for how and when those samples are to be played.



Derived termsEdit



The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


pattern (third-person singular simple present patterns, present participle patterning, simple past and past participle patterned)

  1. To apply a pattern.
  2. To make or design (anything) by, from, or after, something that serves as a pattern; to copy; to model; to imitate.
    • 1634, T[homas] H[erbert], A Relation of Some Yeares Travaile, Begunne Anno 1626. into Afrique and the Greater Asia, [], London: [] William Stansby, and Jacob Bloome, OCLC 869931719:
      [A temple] patterned [] from that which Adam reared in Paradise.
  3. To follow an example.
  4. To fit into a pattern.
  5. (transitive) To serve as an example for.




pattern (not comparable)

  1. Of or in accordance with a usual pattern, or type; model; ideal.
    • 1842, Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Lady Anne Granard, volume 1, page 168-169:
      "Not to me," interrupted his sister. "I will have no straw-bonneted, gingham-gowned pattern wives in my acquaintance. I shall make a point of cutting you."
    • 1861, Anthony Trollope, Framley Parsonage
      The parish duty was better attended to, and perhaps domestic duties also. At such period he was a pattern parson and a pattern husband, atoning to his own conscience for past shortcomings by present zeal.