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

transitive verb

: to call for forcibly or urgently and obtain
from them has been exacted the ultimate sacrificeD. D. Eisenhower
: to call for as necessary or desirable
exactable adjective
exactor noun
or less commonly exacter


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

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.

Did you know?

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.

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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Steve Albini, the legendarily exacting producer/engineer and frontman of the noisesome indie rock bands Shellac and Big Black has died at 61. Gil Kaufman, The Hollywood Reporter, 8 May 2024 But the Celtics exacted their revenge Wednesday and in this series and did it with slap-you-in-the-face dominance. Greg Cote, Miami Herald, 2 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for exact 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'exact.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



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

First Known Use


1564, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1533, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of exact was in 1533


Dictionary Entries Near exact

Cite this Entry

“Exact.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exact. Accessed 20 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
ex·​act ig-ˈzakt How to pronounce exact (audio)
: to demand and get by force or threat
exact burdensome concessions
: to call for as necessary or desirable
exact a high price


2 of 2 adjective
: fully and completely in agreement with fact, a standard, or an original
the exact time
an exact rhyme
an exact replica
: providing great accuracy
exact instruments

More from Merriam-Webster on exact

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