agent

noun
\ ˈā-jənt How to pronounce agent (audio) \
plural agents

Definition of agent

1 : one that acts or exerts power
2a : 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)

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Other Words from agent

agentive \ ˈā-​jən-​tiv How to pronounce agentive (audio) \ adjective

Examples of agent in a Sentence

They worked with a travel agent to plan their vacation. the whitening agent in the detergent is chlorine bleach
Recent Examples on the Web In rarer instances, some who stay are thrust into a change-agent role. Joann S. Lublin, WSJ, "Considering a New Job? Beware a Culture Misfit.," 15 Jan. 2020 Federal agents target lookalikes Last year, Customs and Border Protection seized nearly 34,000 shipments containing counterfeit goods, or nearly 100 per day. oregonlive, "Buy a new refrigerator water filter? It might be a dangerous fake," 15 Jan. 2020 Before biocontrol agents are deployed on a large scale, researchers typically conduct studies evaluating the potential risks and benefits. Gabriel Popkin, Science | AAAS, "Aphid-munching beetle could help save hemlock forests," 15 Jan. 2020 Marvel dropped a new trailer for the film Monday night during the College Football Playoff National Championship game, offering a new look at everyone’s favorite crimson-haired agent. Devan Coggan, EW.com, "Scarlett Johansson has 'unfinished business' in new Black Widow footage," 14 Jan. 2020 Detectives with the Phoenix Police Department's Drug Enforcement Bureau and special agents with the United States Department of Agriculture investigated the case. Perry Vandell, azcentral, "Couple accused of selling drugs for food stamps and cash," 14 Jan. 2020 Though none of the Chinese nationals have been charged with espionage or being agents of a foreign government, the arrests come amid United States officials increasingly warning of Beijing’s threat to national security. Caitlin Yilek, Washington Examiner, "Chinese national accused of trespassing at Key West military base pleads not guilty," 14 Jan. 2020 Detainers are requests by ICE to hold undocumented immigrants who have been charged or convicted of crimes for 48 hours after their release so that immigration agents can pick them up. New York Times, "Man Accused of Murdering Woman, 92, Should Have Been Deported, ICE Says," 14 Jan. 2020 No one involved, the investigation found, had imagined a suicide bomb, something that had never happened in the history of agent recruitments. NBC News, "Ten years after a CIA operation in Afghanistan went wrong, a slain officer's family celebrates his memory," 13 Jan. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of agent

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for agent

Middle English, "force capable of acting on matter," borrowed from Medieval Latin agent-, agens "something capable of producing an effect, person authorized to act for another," going back to Latin, present participle of agere "to drive (cattle), ride (a horse), be in motion, do, perform, transact," going back to Indo-European *h2eǵ- "drive," whence Sanskrit ajati "(s/he) drives," Greek ágein "to lead, carry off," Armenian acem "(I) lead," Old Irish ad-aig "drives, impels," Old Norse aka "to travel in a vehicle"

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Learn More about agent

Time Traveler for agent

Time Traveler

The first known use of agent was in the 15th century

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Statistics for agent

Last Updated

18 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Agent.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/agent. Accessed 26 January 2020.

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More Definitions for agent

enrolled agent

noun

Financial Definition of enrolled 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.

Source: Investing Answers

transfer agent

noun

Financial Definition of transfer agent

What It Is

A transfer agent manages and maintains records of who owns a corporation's or mutual fund's stock or bonds. Most transfer agents are banks or trust companies, although some companies act as their own transfer agents.

How It Works

Let's assume Company XYZ is a publicly traded corporation that has 10,000,000 shares outstanding. If the shares trade all day, how does Company XYZ know who owns its shares? The answer lies with the transfer agent.

The transfer agent has three big jobs: 1) to issue and cancel stock certificates (including when a company pays a stock dividend or has a stock split); 2) to be an intermediary that makes the dividend or interest payments, sends out and keeps track of proxy materials, exchanges the company's stock or bonds if a merger occurs, tenders shares when necessary, and mails the company's financials and other reports; and, 3) to deal with replacing lost, stolen, or destroyed certificates.

Why It Matters

Transfer agents are crucial behind-the-scenes entities in the business world because they maintain important information and protect even the smallest shareholder or bondholder's right to information disclosure. Without transfer agents, companies would have to find other ways to manage the incredible, time-consuming tasks of keeping track of the constant changes in shareholder and bondholder information.

Source: Investing Answers

agent

noun
How to pronounce agent (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of agent

: 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

noun
\ ˈā-jənt How to pronounce agent (audio) \

Kids Definition of agent

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

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agent

noun
\ ˈā-jənt How to pronounce agent (audio) \

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

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 presidentMarbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803) — see also innocent agent
3a : 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 sense 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
4a : 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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