factor

noun
fac·​tor | \ ˈfak-tər How to pronounce factor (audio) \

Definition of factor

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : one who acts or transacts business for another: such as
b : one that lends money to producers and dealers (as on the security of accounts receivable)
2a(1) : one that actively contributes to the production of a result : ingredient price wasn't a factor in the decision
(2) : a substance that functions in or promotes the function of a particular physiological process or bodily system a clotting factor that facilitates blood coagulation
b : a good or service (such as land, labor, or capital) used in the process of production
3 : gene
4a : any of the numbers or symbols in mathematics that when multiplied together form a product (see product sense 1) also : a number or symbol that divides another number or symbol
b : a quantity by which a given quantity is multiplied or divided in order to indicate a difference in measurement costs increased by a factor of 10

factor

verb
factored; factoring\ ˈfak-​t(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce factor (audio) \

Definition of factor (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to work as a factor

transitive verb

1 : to resolve into factors
2a : to include or admit as a factor used with in or into factor inflation into our calculations
b : to exclude as a factor used with out

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Other Words from factor

Noun

factorship \ ˈfak-​tər-​ˌship How to pronounce factor (audio) \ noun

Verb

factorable \ ˈfak-​t(ə-​)rə-​bəl How to pronounce factor (audio) \ adjective

Did You Know?

In Latin factor means simply "doer". So in English a factor is an "actor" or element or ingredient in some situation or quantity. Charm can be a factor in someone's success, and lack of exercise can be a factor in producing a poor physique. In math we use factor to mean a number that can be multiplied or divided to produce a given number (for example, 5 and 8 are factors of 40). And in biology a gene may be called a factor, since genes are ingredients in the total organism.

Examples of factor in a Sentence

Noun There were several factors contributing to their recent decline. Poor planning was a major factor in the company's failure. 6, 4, 3, and 2 are factors of 12.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Vequist, who won the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Fillies, finished down the track ninth, and was never a factor. John Cherwa, Los Angeles Times, "Horse racing newsletter: Kentucky Oaks rankings are back," 1 Mar. 2021 Some experts worry that the public will fixate on that data point and pass up getting the Johnson & Johnson shot in favor of other vaccines that underwent trials at an earlier stage of the pandemic, when such variants were not a factor. Compiled Democrat-gazette Staff From Wire Reports, Arkansas Online, "Can't go back to normal yet, Fauci warns," 1 Mar. 2021 Porter said the cost to care for sick veterans should not be a factor. Abraham Mahshie, Washington Examiner, "Veterans groups hope Beau Biden’s death will lead president to help ailing post-9/11 veterans," 1 Mar. 2021 The investigation is ongoing, but troopers said alcohol did not immediately seem to be a factor. Anchorage Daily News, "Seafood truck crashes on Seward Highway, killing 1," 1 Mar. 2021 Some experts are worried the public will fixate on that data point and pass up getting the Johnson & Johnson shot in favor of other vaccines that underwent trials at an earlier stage of the pandemic when such variants were not a factor. Washington Post, "CDC advisers recommend Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine, paving the way for inoculations to start this week," 28 Feb. 2021 Who will be prioritized first? Kentucky continues to target those 70 and older from the 1B category, and age will continue to be a factor. Sarah Ladd, The Courier-Journal, "Kentucky opening regional COVID-19 vaccination sites to 1C in March. What that means for you," 27 Feb. 2021 The pandemic is also a factor, with many students coming from the five counties surrounding the university. Emily Bamforth, cleveland, "Cleveland State faces reaccreditation this year, as university works to solve deficit, ensure stable leadership," 27 Feb. 2021 But a return to preventative measures might also be a factor. Madeline Holcombe, CNN, "Another Covid-19 surge hangs in the balance. This is how experts say we keep it from becoming reality," 26 Feb. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Regardless of whether employers decide to require Covid-19 vaccinations as a condition of employment, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that antibody tests should not factor into whether people can return to work. Clarissa Windham-bradstock, Forbes, "Vaccines And The Workplace: Navigating New Territory," 25 Feb. 2021 Some argue that such accounting doesn’t always factor in all the costs, such as environmental cleanup and weight. Laura Parker, National Geographic, "Plastic pollution is a huge problem—and it’s not too late to fix it," 6 Oct. 2020 For example, Congress is stalled on another massive stimulus bill, so the projections don’t factor in what the economic benefits of a rescue package might be, or how the absence of more aid could weigh on struggling households and businesses. Rachel Siegel, Washington Post, "The Federal Reserve projects the economy to improve next year, with unemployment falling to 5.5 percent by the end of 2021," 16 Sep. 2020 Harvick and Blaney collided heading into turn one and wouldn't factor in the finish. Jason Hoffman, The Enquirer, "Cole Custer nabs first Cup Series win after another wild finish to Quaker State 400," 12 July 2020 The social isolation and fear triggered by the pandemic definitely factor in heavily. Stefanie Groner, Glamour, "The Fear of Being Alone Is Real—Here’s How to Face It," 27 Jan. 2021 But such apparent affordability is partly because its emissions go unpriced — and at least some buyers now factor that in. Liam Denning, Chron, "Texas railroad commissioner vents at France," 18 Jan. 2021 But it’s there and waiting, and that has to factor in to the OSU run game evaluation. Doug Lesmerises, cleveland, "What’s hot with Ohio State football: Terrelle Pryor-Quinn Ewers comparisons, 30 years of beating Indiana, the missing Buffalo game," 21 Nov. 2020 But Stepp seems sure to factor in sooner rather than later, health permitting. Ryan Kartje, Los Angeles Times, "USC’s Clay Helton says new eligibility rules will help players and coaches," 29 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'factor.' 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 factor

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1621, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for factor

Noun

Middle English factour "doer, perpetrator, commercial agent," borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French, borrowed from Latin factor "maker, creator, perpetrator" (Medieval Latin, "commercial agent, broker"), from fac-, stem of facere "to make, bring about, perform, do" + -tor, agent suffix — more at fact

Verb

verbal derivative of factor entry 1

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Time Traveler for factor

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for factor

Last Updated

5 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Factor.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/factor. Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for factor

factor

noun

English Language Learners Definition of factor

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: something that helps produce or influence a result : one of the things that cause something to happen
mathematics : a number that evenly divides a larger number
: an amount by which another amount is multiplied or divided

factor

verb

English Language Learners Definition of factor (Entry 2 of 2)

: to consider or include (something) in making a judgment or calculation
: to not consider or include (something) in making a judgment or calculation

factor

noun
fac·​tor | \ ˈfak-tər How to pronounce factor (audio) \

Kids Definition of factor

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : something that helps produce a result Price was a factor in my decision.
2 : any of the numbers that when multiplied together form a product The factors of 6 are 1, 2, 3, and 6.

factor

verb
factored; factoring

Kids Definition of factor (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to be considered in making a judgment Class participation will factor into your grade.
2 : to find the factors of a number

factor

noun
fac·​tor | \ ˈfak-tər How to pronounce factor (audio) \

Medical Definition of factor

1a : something that actively contributes to the production of a result
b : a substance that functions in or promotes the function of a particular physiological process or bodily system
2 : gene

Other Words from factor

factorial \ fak-​ˈtōr-​ē-​əl, -​ˈtȯr-​ How to pronounce factor (audio) \ adjective

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factor

noun
fac·​tor

Legal Definition of factor

1 : one who acts or transacts business for another: as
a : a commercial agent who buys or sells goods for others on commission
b : one that lends money to producers and dealers (as on the security of accounts receivable)
2 : a person or thing that actively contributes to the production of a result a difference in salary based on a factor other than sex

History and Etymology for factor

Medieval Latin, doer, maker, agent, from Latin, maker, from facere to do, make

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Comments on factor

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