ex·​act | \ ig-ˈzakt How to pronounce exact (audio) \
exacted; exacting; exacts

Definition of exact

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to call for forcibly or urgently and obtain from them has been exacted the ultimate sacrifice— D. D. Eisenhower
2 : to call for as necessary or desirable



Definition of exact (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : exhibiting or marked by strict, particular, and complete accordance with fact or a standard
2 : marked by thorough consideration or minute measurement of small factual details

Other Words from exact


exactable \ ig-​ˈzak-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce exact (audio) \ adjective
exactor or less commonly exacter \ ig-​ˈzak-​tər How to pronounce exact (audio) \ noun


exactness \ ig-​ˈzak(t)-​nəs How to pronounce exact (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for exact


demand, claim, require, exact mean to ask or call for something as due or as necessary. demand implies peremptoriness and insistence and often the right to make requests that are to be regarded as commands. demanded payment of the debt claim implies a demand for the delivery or concession of something due as one's own or one's right. claimed the right to manage his own affairs require suggests the imperativeness that arises from inner necessity, compulsion of law or regulation, or the exigencies of the situation. the patient requires constant attention exact implies not only demanding but getting what one demands. exacts absolute loyalty


correct, accurate, exact, precise, nice, right mean conforming to fact, standard, or truth. correct usually implies freedom from fault or error. correct answers socially correct dress accurate implies fidelity to fact or truth attained by exercise of care. an accurate description exact stresses a very strict agreement with fact, standard, or truth. exact measurements precise adds to exact an emphasis on sharpness of definition or delimitation. precise calibration nice stresses great precision and delicacy of adjustment or discrimination. makes nice distinctions right is close to correct but has a stronger positive emphasis on conformity to fact or truth rather than mere absence of error or fault. the right thing to do

Did you know?

Exact derives from a form of the Latin verb exigere, meaning "to drive out, to demand, or to measure." (Another descendant of exigere is the word exigent, which can mean "demanding" or "requiring immediate attention.") Exigere, in turn, was formed by combining the prefix ex- with the verb agere, meaning "to drive." Agere has been a prolific source of words for English speakers; it is the ancestor of agent, react, mitigate, and navigate, just to name a few. Incidentally, if you are looking for a synonym of the verb exact, you could try demand, call for, claim, or require.

Do you exact or extract revenge?


The verb exact (as in, "exacting revenge" or "exacting a promise") is not as commonly encountered as the adjective exact, (as in "an exact copy" or "exact measurements"). Sometimes people will mistakenly use the more common verb extract when they really want exact. Extract can refer to removing something by pulling or cutting or to getting information from someone who does not want to give it. While both words refer to getting something they are used in different ways. You extract a tooth, but you exact revenge.

Examples of exact in a Sentence

Verb They would not rest until they had exacted revenge. He was able to exact a promise from them. Adjective Those were his exact words. The exact cause of the fire is still under investigation. We don't know the exact nature of the problem. Predicting the path of hurricanes is not an exact science. The police have an exact description of the killer. Please take the most exact measurements possible. He is very exact in the way he solves a problem. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Despite allowing Syracuse to exact revenge from its 2020 loss, the Flames have a potential first-round NFL Draft selection in quarterback Malik Willis. Evan Dudley, al, 28 Sep. 2021 The numbers are estimates and not exact counts, said Ethan Chernofsky, the company’s vice president of marketing. Chase Difeliciantonio, San Francisco Chronicle, 2 Apr. 2022 Giving people exact directions on how solar and a backup generator can power their home during a power outage. Eric Hadley, Forbes, 26 Jan. 2022 The archetypal example is the lynch mob, in which a group of enraged whites in the segregationist South would hunt down a Black man and exact extralegal punishment, for crimes real or imagined, with a noose. Damon Linker, The Week, 15 Dec. 2021 The high-tech gear has let small numbers of Ukrainian soldiers exact a surprisingly large toll on Russian tanks, armored vehicles and supply columns. Robert Wall And Daniel Michaels, WSJ, 17 Mar. 2022 Yes, this spurs the elves to action with Francesca leading her people into Redania to exact revenge on King Vizimir and his spymaster, Sigismund Dijkstra (Graham McTavish). Erik Kain, Forbes, 29 Dec. 2021 The rest of the film is a pair of manhunts: The police are trying to find the thieves before the gangsters exact revenge. Alison Willmore, Vulture, 6 Dec. 2021 Rear-seat passengers will find enough room for short hauls, although the upright seatback and lack of legroom would exact a toll on long trips. Drew Dorian, Car and Driver, 28 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Australia is wider than the moon — 600km wider, to be exact. Olivia Muenter, Woman's Day, 12 May 2022 The other important thing to remember is that the mountain sits at a rather high elevation more than 16,000 feet above sea level — 17,060 feet to be exact — so be prepared by bringing plenty of water and taking your time on the ascent and descent. Stacey Leasca, Travel + Leisure, 12 May 2022 Pierce Brosnan plays the titular King — Louis XIV, to be exact. Marisa Lascala, Good Housekeeping, 10 May 2022 The collection is rife with spectacular rings—25 to be exact. Victoria Gomelsky, Robb Report, 3 May 2022 Like Drake, the main difference between him and his online following is mountains of money, $252 billion to be exact. Jeff Ihaza, Rolling Stone, 30 Apr. 2022 San Diego County’s net population loss was well under 1 percent — 0.3 percent to be exact — of its 3.28 million residents. Mike Freeman, San Diego Union-Tribune, 29 Apr. 2022 To be exact, the prosthesis costs between $10,000 to $20,000. Sarah Wells, Popular Mechanics, 28 Apr. 2022 This month, Forbes reported that California has more billionaires than any other state in the U.S. — 186, to be exact. Justin Raystaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 27 Apr. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of exact


1564, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1533, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for exact


Middle English exacten "to require as payment," borrowed from Latin exāctus, past participle of exigere "to drive out, achieve, enforce payment of or the performance of (a task), require, inquire into, examine" from ex- ex- entry 1 + agere "to drive (cattle), be in motion, do, perform" — more at agent


borrowed from Latin exāctus, from past participle of exigere "to drive out, achieve, require, inquire into, examine, measure" — more at exact entry 1

Buying Guide

Our Reviews team has selected the best calculators.

Learn More About exact

Listen to Our Podcast About exact

Dictionary Entries Near exact




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for exact

Last Updated

14 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Exact.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exact. Accessed 18 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for exact


ex·​act | \ ig-ˈzakt How to pronounce exact (audio) \

Kids Definition of exact

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: completely correct or precise : accurate an exact copy the exact time

Other Words from exact

exactly adverb
exactness noun


exacted; exacting

Kids Definition of exact (Entry 2 of 2)

: to demand and get by force or threat They exacted terrible revenge.

More from Merriam-Webster on exact

Nglish: Translation of exact for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of exact for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Great Words for Scrabble

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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