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What does "he figures you" mean? I mean in this sentence: "He figures you get more overtime that way, being at a cheaper rate or whatnot."

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    That is part of American English in particular. This question should have an American English tag. – Tristan Sep 10 '13 at 20:39
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"Figures" in this case means "to come to a conclusion". It essentially means that the person has used the premises that they have on hand to arrive at an understanding of the facts.

However, the phrase "figures you" is an actual expression that has a different meaning. If someone "figures you", it means they have decided you probably belong to some sort of group. For instance, "I figured you for a Yankees fan, not a Mets fan!", would mean the person thought that you were a fan of the New York Yankees, rather than the New York Mets.

In either case, "figure you" means they have come to some conclusion about you or your actions, but the case given is not the same as the expression "figure you".

  • "Come to an understanding" is a phrase that means "reach an agreement" between two or more people. It does not mean "achieve conclusive knowledge." You are also missing the point that "figure you" in the original question is not what is happening in the sentence, so your answer is off the mark. – John M. Landsberg Sep 10 '13 at 20:39
  • No, what I meant was understanding the situation, not understanding as an agreement. You misinterpreted what I was saying in my original post, and as such, I've used a word other than 'understanding' so that it will be less of a loaded phrase. – Zibbobz Sep 10 '13 at 20:48
  • Okay, so my first comment was in response to your original statement, when you said "figures" means "come to an understanding." That of course no longer applies. But the rest of your post still responds to the OP's misinterpretation of the sentence without correcting that misinterpretation. – John M. Landsberg Sep 10 '13 at 20:50
  • Except that use of the word combination DOES appear in the english language, so it's worth noting that it appears sometimes that way, and explaining what it means. You are right though, it's not actually a use of the phrase. I'll correct my answer to explain this. – Zibbobz Sep 10 '13 at 20:52
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    I really respect the way you respond to comments. You have great integrity. – John M. Landsberg Sep 10 '13 at 20:59
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"He figures (or believes) that you get more overtime...". This isn't really an idiom, just an elision.

As Zibbobz says, he figures you for a novice in some cases means 'he thinks of you as a novice'. This is an idiom, but not the one you are asking about.

Both these uses are informal at best, or regionalisms at worst; but they're worth learning.

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    Tim, I think it confuses the issue not to be crystal clear in differentiating between these two usages. Clearly the OP doesn't understand the difference. Further, I don't see why they are regionalisms; I hear them everywhere. – John M. Landsberg Sep 10 '13 at 20:45
  • @John: improved, I hope. And around here they would certainly be called Americanisms, but it was my impression that they are more Western/Southern. – TimLymington Sep 10 '13 at 22:54
  • Ah, I see. Improved, yes. Upvoted. I ignorantly had no idea they were not common over there. But over here, they're not regionalized. – John M. Landsberg Sep 10 '13 at 23:12
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You are parsing the sentence incorrectly. It is not that anyone is figuring you as the object of figuring.

What the person is figuring is that you get more overtime. In other words, it is a way of saying, "when he thinks about this situation, he thinks that you will get more overtime pay that way."

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