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 agent (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 Robbie Brown, formerly of WME, has joined UTA as a music agent based in Los Angeles. Chris Eggertsen, Billboard, "Executive Turntable: Atlantic Elevates Promotion Vets, Ticketing Startup Beefs Up Leadership Team," 15 Jan. 2021 Around the globe, people were driving less — and that reduced short-term aerosol pollution which acts as a cooling agent by reflecting heat. The Associated Press, NOLA.com, "2020 sets another global temperature record: 'Another year, same story'," 15 Jan. 2021 This reduced the short-term aerosol pollution that acts as a cooling agent by reflecting heat. Doyle Rice, USA TODAY, "2020 just short of being Earth's hottest year on record as global warming continues," 15 Jan. 2021 Around the globe, people were driving less — and that reduced short-term aerosol pollution which acts as a cooling agent by reflecting heat. Seth Borenstein, Star Tribune, "Hot again: 2020 sets yet another global temperature record," 14 Jan. 2021 Around the globe, people were driving less — and that reduced short-term aerosol pollution which acts as a cooling agent by reflecting heat. Seth Borenstein, BostonGlobe.com, "Hot again: 2020 sets yet another global temperature record," 14 Jan. 2021 Around the globe, people were driving less — and that reduced short-term aerosol pollution which acts as a cooling agent by reflecting heat. Seth Borenstein, Anchorage Daily News, "Hot again: 2020 sets yet another global temperature record," 14 Jan. 2021 The controversy prompted Boxer to de-register as a foreign agent Tuesday. Joe Garofoli, SFChronicle.com, "Biden to return donation from ex-California Sen. Barbara Boxer over Chinese lobbying," 12 Jan. 2021 Fernandez had to quit her job as a call center agent to care for her newborns. David Pierson, Los Angeles Times, "The pandemic is fueling a baby boom in the Philippines. For some, that’s bad news," 6 Jan. 2021

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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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

22 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Agent.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/agent. Accessed 23 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for agent

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

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

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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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