ac·​tu·​al ˈak-ch(ə-w)əl How to pronounce actual (audio)
: existing in fact or reality
actual events
actual and imagined conditions
: not false or apparent
actual costs
used for emphasis
This is the actual room in which my grandfather was born.
: existing or occurring at the time
caught in the actual commission of a crime
obsolete : active

Example Sentences

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.
Recent Examples on the Web Someone said that of all the wrestleboys, Bautista does the most actual acting in his movie work. Vulture, 3 Feb. 2023 The rest of the cast includes Julie Hagerty, Haley Joel Osment, Amy Sedaris, and Danny Pudi, making this a Community reunion before the actual, upcoming Community reunion. Brendan Morrow, The Week, 1 Feb. 2023 Woodstock Willie is located in Woodstock, Illinois which was the actual shooting location for the movie Groundhog Day. Heather Hunter, Washington Examiner, 29 Jan. 2023 In the months since The Banshees of Inisherin wrapped filming, Farrell's neon green jogging short-shorts have become the most recent hallmark of the landscape's memory, following all the actual Irish history contained on these lush islands. Sezin Koehler,, 25 Jan. 2023 Blackburn still wants to forbid what is essentially any teaching and learning about America’s actual history. Jamil Smith, Los Angeles Times, 18 Jan. 2023 Many have brought up the concept that wind insurance should be centralized because the rates there are determined by modeling companies and the [National Hurricane Center] catalogue of storms vs. actual loss history. Ron Hurtibise, Sun Sentinel, 15 Jan. 2023 Unlike high-stakes summative assessments, such as midterm or final exams, formative assessments provide feedback during the actual instructional process. Bethlam Forsa, Forbes, 24 Jan. 2023 Yet the actual role that Ticketmaster plays in live music is widely misunderstood. Los Angeles Times, 23 Jan. 2023 See More

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.

Word History


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

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

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

Dictionary Entries Near actual

Cite this Entry

“Actual.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


ac·​tu·​al ˈak-ch(ə-w)əl How to pronounce actual (audio)
: existing in fact and not merely as a possibility

Legal Definition


: existing in fact or reality compare constructive
actually adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on actual

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