AskDefine | Define figurine

Dictionary Definition

figurine n : a small carved or molded figure [syn: statuette]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. a small carved or molded figure; a statuette


a small carved or molded figure



  1. Plural of figurina

Extensive Definition

For the indie band, see Figurine (band)
A figurine (a diminutive form of the word figure) is a statuette that represents a human, deity, or animal. Figurines may be realistic or iconic, depending on the skill and intention of the creator. The earliest were made of stone or clay. Modern versions are made of ceramic, metal, glass, wood and plastic.
Figurines and miniatures are sometimes used in board games, such as chess, and tabletop role playing games. Figures with movable parts, allowing limbs to be posed, are more likely to be called dolls, mannequins, or action figures; or robots or automata, if they can move on their own.
Old figurines have been used to discount some historical theories, such as the origins of chess.
Porcelain is considered the finest of materials for figurines and other ceramics. There are many early examples from China where it originated, which drove the experimentation in Europe to replicate the process. The first European porcelain figurines, produced in a process mastered in Germany were known as Meissen ware after the city where it began. Soon the technique was copied in other cities, such as the one depicted to the right from Dresden.
The terms inaction figures (originally used to describe Kevin Smith's View Askew figurines) and staction figures (a portmanteau of statue and action figures coined by Four Horsemen artists to describe Masters of the Universe figures) have been used to refer to figurines of comic book or sci-fi/fantasy characters without movable parts.


In China, there are extant Neolithic figurines. Prehistoric figurines of pregnant women are called Venus figurines, because of their presumed representation of a female goddess, or some connection to fertility. The two oldest known examples are made of stone, were found in Africa and Asia, and are several hundred thousand years old. Many made of fired clay have been found in Europe that date to 25-30,000 BC, and are the oldest ceramics known.
In Minoan Crete terracotta figurines manifesting facial detail have been recovered from the Iron Age strata.
These early figurines are among the first signs of human culture. One cannot know in some cases how they were used. They probably had religious or ceremonial significance and may have been used in many types of rituals. Many are found in burials. Some may have been worn as jewelry or intended to amuse children.
figurine in Persian: تندیسک
figurine in French: Figurine
figurine in Japanese: フィギュア
figurine in Swedish: Figurin
figurine in Chinese: 手办

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

bust, carving, doll, dolly, dummy, fantoccini, figure, figurehead, gingerbread man, lay figure, man of straw, manikin, mannequin, marionette, model, monument, portrait bust, puppet, scarecrow, sculpture, snowman, statuary, statue, statuette, wax figure, waxwork, wood carving
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