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 factoring (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 intofactor 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 factorship (audio) \ noun

Verb

factorable \ ˈfak-​t(ə-​)rə-​bəl How to pronounce factorable (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 The biggest factor that keeps Miami’s expenses higher than Akron’s is higher tuition at the Southwest Ohio school. Rich Exner, cleveland, "Why University of Akron outpaces other Ohio schools in subsidizing its sports program," 22 Feb. 2020 But even absent those factors, the USATF Indoor Championships often are missing big names. oregonlive, "What the USATF Indoor Championships can learn from Portland Track: Oregon track & field rundown," 20 Feb. 2020 Soaring rents and an undersupply of affordable housing are the key factors behind the evictions, according to Shachter. John Laidler, BostonGlobe.com, "Somerville helps tenants fight eviction with information," 20 Feb. 2020 Adams attributed the rebound in Colorado's sales growth to two key factors: the increasing prevalence of non-flower products and changes in consumer behavior. Alicia Wallace, CNN, "Colorado sold a record $1.75 billion of cannabis last year," 18 Feb. 2020 The model factors in detailed data about a variety of impacts—including snowfall, rainfall, snow melt, temperature and evaporation in the landscape that drains into the river—that could change how the that could alter the 1,450-mile-long river. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, "The Colorado River Is Shrinking as Temperatures Rise," 17 Feb. 2020 Whatever the factors, the evolving dynamics are on view at the City Council level — where a progressive majority that was expected to curtail new market-rate construction instead is urging it on. John King, SFChronicle.com, "Berkeley tries on a new movement: the quest to create housing," 16 Feb. 2020 There are many factors that go into that, of course, but 3-point shooting has not been especially kind to the Wildcats. Hayes Gardner, The Courier-Journal, "Off the mark: UK's poor 3-point shooting against Ole Miss highlights weakness," 16 Feb. 2020 Kristina Lerman, a computer scientist at the University of Southern California, acknowledged that studies of bias were difficult because the same results could be caused by different factors, known in statistics as confounding variables. Zain Humayun, Ars Technica, "Researchers have already tested YouTube’s algorithms for political bias," 15 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In another notable change, the new calculation will factor in personal loans, FICO said, including from the time they are issued and consumers begin repayment to when a loan goes into collection. Khristopher J. Brooks, CBS News, "Changes are coming to your FICO score calculation," 23 Jan. 2020 Taye McWilliams, RB Ranked as one of the top 30 running back recruits in the nation, McWilliams will surely factor into the future of Baylor football. Dallas News, "Meet the 2020 early enrollees on Baylor’s campus, including the Bears’ top recruit," 20 Jan. 2020 Trust me, BetMGM factored in the Heats’ O/U record when making their total and still have extra vig on the Under. Geoff Clark, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "New York Knicks at Miami Heat odds, picks and best bets," 20 Dec. 2019 The Supreme Court has ruled both that juries, not judges, must impose death sentences, and that mitigating factors, including childhood deprivations, must be factored into sentencing decisions. BostonGlobe.com, "McKinney’s attorneys also alleged the state court violated an earlier US Supreme Court ruling that concluded that the sentencer in a death penalty case can’t refuse to consider relevant mitigating evidence. They say the remedy for violating the rule was resentencing.," 11 Dec. 2019 Who will be the biggest offseason addition? Plus, some discussion about Giannis Antetokounmpo saying pointedly that team success will factor into his long-term plans. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Bucks Podcast: Let's do this! Buy or sell the Bucks as the NBA title favorite?," 23 Oct. 2019 Physicists think that quantum computers might one day run revolutionary algorithms that could, for example, search unwieldy databases or factor large numbers—including, importantly, those used in encryption. Elizabeth Gibney, Scientific American, "Google Publishes Landmark Quantum Supremacy Claim," 23 Oct. 2019 The total project cost is $3.24 million, when factoring in staff time, and includes $2.35 million in construction costs. San Diego Union-Tribune, "One of the city’s oldest public pools is slated to get millions in mandatory fixes," 30 Aug. 2019 Various factors such as the potential for limited police and fire personnel, power outages and flooding could factor into a decision. Wells Dusenbury, sun-sentinel.com, "With Hurricane Dorian approaching, here’s how Marlins are preparing ballpark and Jupiter facility," 29 Aug. 2019

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

25 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Factor.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/factor. Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for factor

factor

noun

Financial Definition of factor

What It Is

A factor is a financial institution that purchases receivables from a company.

How It Works

Let's say Company XYZ sells widgets. It has about $1 million in receivables from customers who have not paid for their widgets.

Company XYZ needs cash right away because it is trying to finish building a new factory. It calls a factor, which purchases the receivables for $750,000. In the deal, Company XYZ gets $750,000 right away, and the factor gets the right to all the money from the receivables ($1 million). The factor then assumes the risk of customers paying late or not at all.

Why It Matters

Factors and factoring can be complicated, but the basic idea is that companies can trade cash flows later for cash flows now, which is useful for companies that need cash right away. It can also be expensive, as the example shows (Company XYZ gave up $250,000 of its receivables for the deal).

Because factors assume the risk of collecting the receivables, they are choosy about which companies they work with and the creditworthiness of the companies' customers.

Source: Investing Answers

factor

noun
How to pronounce factor (audio)

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

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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 factorial (audio) \ adjective

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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