ac·​tu·​al | \ ˈak-ch(ə-w)əl How to pronounce actual (audio) , -sh(ə-w)əl; -chü-əl, -shü- \

Definition of actual

1a : existing in fact or reality actual events actual and imagined conditions
b : not false or apparent actual costs
c used for emphasis This is the actual room in which my grandfather was born.
2 : existing or occurring at the time caught in the actual commission of a crime
3 obsolete : active

Examples of actual in a Sentence

They signed the agreement in the spring, but the actual sale wasn't made until that summer. You deposit money in a bank account but the actual money is not held there. The actual cost of the repair was much higher than the estimate.
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Recent Examples on the Web In 2018, 12,474 cases of hepatitis A were reported in the U.S., but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that the actual number of cases was likely around 24,900 due to underreporting. Julia Musto, Fox News, 19 Nov. 2021 After weeks of questions from ProPublica, during which the company declined to say how many seeds or saplings have actually been planted, Aspiration said the actual number is 12 million. Carson Kessler, ProPublica, 17 Nov. 2021 It’s the difference between what would be an accompaniment or the actual performance. Matt Wake |, al, 15 Nov. 2021 In others, the patients and their parents stated that the billings significantly out-numbered the actual number of appointments performed. Guillermo Contreras, San Antonio Express-News, 11 Nov. 2021 People incarcerated at the Estrella jail and their family members claim the actual number is much higher. Jimmy Jenkins, The Arizona Republic, 5 Nov. 2021 At its peak the country was reporting over 400,000 cases per day, though experts say the actual number was likely much higher. Diksha Madhok, CNN, 2 Nov. 2021 In addition, while Zones E and F in the western and southern parts of the state were below goals, the actual number of bears taken in those areas was at or above levels in recent years. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 31 Oct. 2021 Those stats can act as funhouse-mirror distortions of a pitcher’s actual performance., 28 Oct. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'actual.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of actual

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for actual

Middle English, "active, existing in fact," borrowed from Anglo-French & Late Latin; Anglo-French actuel, borrowed from Late Latin āctuālis, from Latin āctus act entry 1 + -ālis -al entry 1

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Time Traveler for actual

Time Traveler

The first known use of actual was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near actual

act tune


actual cash value

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Statistics for actual

Last Updated

26 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Actual.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for actual



English Language Learners Definition of actual

: real and not merely possible or imagined : existing in fact
: known to be correct or precise : not false or apparent
used for emphasis


ac·​tu·​al | \ ˈak-chə-wəl How to pronounce actual (audio) \

Kids Definition of actual

: really existing or happening : not false The movie is based on actual events.



Legal Definition of actual

: existing in fact or reality — compare constructive

Other Words from actual

actually adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on actual

Nglish: Translation of actual for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of actual for Arabic Speakers


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