agent

play
noun \ ˈā-jənt \
Updated on: 26 Jul 2017

Definition of agent

1 :one that acts or exerts power
2 a :something that produces or is capable of producing an effect :an active or efficient cause
  • Education proved to be an agent of change in the community.
b :a chemically, physically, or biologically active principle
  • an oxidizing agent
3 :a means or instrument by which a guiding intelligence achieves a result
4 :one who is authorized to act for or in the place of another: such as
a :a representative, emissary, or official of a government
  • crown agent
  • federal agent
b :one engaged in undercover activities (such as espionage) :spy
  • a secret agent
c :a business representative (as of an athlete or entertainer)
  • a theatrical agent
5 :a computer application designed to automate certain tasks (such as gathering information online)

Examples of agent in a Sentence

  1. They worked with a travel agent to plan their vacation.

  2. the whitening agent in the detergent is chlorine bleach

Recent Examples of agent from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of agent

Middle English, from Medieval Latin agent-, agens, from Latin, present participle of agere to drive, lead, act, do; akin to Old Norse aka to travel in a vehicle, Greek agein to drive, lead


Financial Definition of AGENT

agent

What It Is

An enrolled agent (EA) is person who is authorized to represent a taxpayer before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

How It Works

To become an EA, a person has to pass a three-part comprehensive IRS test of individual and business tax returns or be a former IRS employee with appropriate experience. To maintain the credential, EAs must obey ethical standards and complete 72 hours of continuing education every three years.

The EA designation is the highest one the IRS confers, and EAs have the authority to represent any taxpayer for any tax matter.

Why It Matters

Tax advisors can be CPAs, attorneys, or other people, but not all tax advisors are EAs. Treasury Department Circular No. 230 sets forth the requirements for who can practice before the IRS.

EAs and other tax advisors might help a client structure his assets such that his estate taxes are lower. They might help a company organize itself so that its shareholders pay less in taxes or so that an acquisition does not generate a large tax liability.



AGENT Defined for English Language Learners

agent

play
noun

Definition of agent for English Language Learners

  • : a person who does business for another person : a person who acts on behalf of another

  • : a person who tries to get secret information about another country, government, etc.

  • : a person or thing that causes something to happen


AGENT Defined for Kids

agent

play
noun \ ˈā-jənt \

Definition of agent for Students

1 :something that produces an effect
  • cleansing agents
2 :a person who acts or does business for another
  • a travel agent

Medical Dictionary

agent

play
noun \ ˈā-jənt \

medical Definition of agent

1 :something that produces or is capable of producing an effect
2 :a chemically, physically, or biologically active principle — see oxidizing agent, reducing agent

Law Dictionary

agent

noun

legal Definition of agent

1 :someone or something that acts or exerts power :a moving force in achieving some result
2 :a person guided or instigated by another in some action
  • where the heads of departments are the political…agents of the executive, merely to execute the will of the president
  • Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803)
— see also innocent agent
3 a :a person or entity (as an employee or independent contractor) authorized to act on behalf of and under the control of another in dealing with third parties — see also agency 2, fiduciary relationship, subagent — compare fiduciary, principal, servant
apparent agent
:an agent acting under an agency by estoppel
bargaining agent
:a labor union that represents the employees in a bargaining unit in negotiating with their employer through collective bargaining
business agent
:an agent that handles business affairs for another person or organization; especially :a paid official of a union who carries on union business between the employees and the employer
collective bargaining agent
:bargaining agent in this entry
del credere agent
:an agent that guarantees to his or her principal that third parties involved in the transaction will pay or perform
enrolled agent
:a person qualified through expertise and good reputation to represent taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service
exclusive agent
:an agent acting under an exclusive agency
general agent
:an agent acting under a general agency
legislative agent
:an agent (as for an interest group) that lobbies a legislature especially professionally
managing agent
:an agent or employee of a corporation or other business entity who has a position that involves the use of judgment and discretion and who is considered under the law as capable of accepting service of process and answering questions under cross-examination on behalf of the business entity
ostensible agent
:an agent acting under an agency by estoppel
special agent
:an agent authorized to do one or more specific acts under particular instructions or within restrictions implied by the nature of the authorized acts :an agent acting under a special agency — compare general agent in this entry
transfer agent
:an officer, bank, or trust company that acts on behalf of a publicly held corporation in handling the transfer of stock and other securities and keeping records of the owners
universal agent
:an agent acting under a general agency
b :a representative (as of a corporation or nonresident administrator of an estate) designated to accept service of process on behalf of the represented party usually as required by statute
c :a person or organization that finds buyers or tenants for real estate owners usually for a commission
d :an independent sales or service representative of an insurance company — compare broker
4 a :a representative, emissary, or official of a government
  • a diplomatic agent
b :an employee of a government agency usually that is involved in law enforcement


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