ac·tu·ary | \ˈak-chə-ˌwer-ē, -shə-, -ˌwe-rē-\
plural actuaries

Definition of actuary 

1 obsolete : clerk, registrar

2 : a person who calculates insurance and annuity premiums, reserves, and dividends

Examples of actuary in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The team had to field questions from actuaries, an exercise which forced them to think on their feet and apply their knowledge to a variety of scenarios. Erika Rose, Post-Tribune, "IU Northwest actuarial science students reach finals in international competition," 7 June 2018 James Lynch, chief actuary and vice president of research and education at the Insurance Information Institute, said part of the reason is that the cost of crashes has been rising — as much as 46 percent just because of personal injury claims. Fredrick Kunkle, Washington Post, "Auto insurance rates have skyrocketed — and in ways that are wildly unfair," 7 Feb. 2018 The report, prepared mostly by nonpolitical actuaries and economists, predicts a 2.4 percent increase in Social Security benefits next year, to keep up with the cost of living. Robert Pear, New York Times, "Medicare’s Trust Fund Is Set to Run Out in 8 Years. Social Security, 16.," 5 June 2018 Just last week, Medicare's own chief actuary, Paul Spitalnic, estimated that expanding short-term insurance would suck as many as 800,000 consumers out of the ACA market, driving premiums higher by 3% in the first year and up to 6% a year by 2022. Michael Hiltzik,, "States start pushing back against Trump's junky short-term health plans," 23 May 2018 In pharmacy benefit managers, actuaries make the decisions based on how big the financial rebate from the drug company to the PBM is. Scott Knoer, STAT, "What does PBM stand for? In Ohio (and elsewhere), it’s programs bilking millions," 29 June 2018 The letter came from Mary Parsons, the widow of David Parsons, an Atlanta actuary who purchased it from a rare book dealer in New York in 2004, unaware it had been stolen from the Vatican. Nicole Winfield,, "US returns 1493 Christopher Columbus letter to Vatican," 14 June 2018 The Columbus letter was traced to Robert Parsons, an Atlanta actuary, who had bought it from a rare book dealer in New York in 2004. Madison Park, CNN, "Stolen Christopher Columbus letter to be returned to Vatican," 14 June 2018 The bride's father is the chief actuary and chief operating officer of the Brandywine Group of Insurance and Reinsurance Companies in Philadelphia. New York Times, "Alice Oliver, Thomas Incorvaia," 20 May 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of actuary

1570, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for actuary

borrowed from Latin āctuārius "shorthand writer, keeper of accounts," alteration (with -u- from the u-stem action noun āctus) of *āctārius, from āctum "public transaction, record" + -ārius -ary entry 1 — more at act entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about actuary

Statistics for actuary

Last Updated

5 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for actuary

The first known use of actuary was in 1570

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for actuary



Financial Definition of actuary

What It Is

An actuary is a person who evaluates the likelihood of certain events and creates plans to deal with those events.

How It Works

Actuaries must understand business, have good analytical skills, and be aware of how human behavior affects risk. In the insurance business, for example, actuaries use an issuer's costs to calculate premiums for policyholders. They also make estimates of damage after big events, such as hurricanes or earthquakes. Additionally, they may use medical records, geological information, or other data to predict things such as how long a customer will live or where the next big earthquake will occur. Comfort with statistics is key.

Actuarial work typically requires a bachelor's degree, and actuaries must also pass a series of exams to earn a professional designation through the Casualty Actuarial Society or the Society of Actuaries. It can take six to 10 years to pass all the tests. In 2010, the median pay for actuaries was $87,650 per year.

Why It Matters

Because actuaries manage risk, many work in the insurance industry, but many also work in private industry, as consultants, at accounting firms, in banks and in other organizations.

Source: Investing Answers



English Language Learners Definition of actuary

: a person whose job is to tell insurance companies how much they should charge people for insurance based on risks


ac·tu·ary | \ˈak-chə-ˌwer-ē, -shə- \
plural actuaries

Legal Definition of actuary 

: a person who calculates insurance and annuity premiums, reserves, and dividends

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on actuary

What made you want to look up actuary? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not any or not one

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!