# factor

fac·​tor | \ ˈfak-tər \

Essential Meaning of factor

1 : something that helps produce or influence a result : one of the things that cause something to happen There were several factors contributing to their recent decline. Poor planning was a major factor in the company's failure. Cost was the decisive/deciding/determining factor in their decision. [=the most important reason for their decision]
2 mathematics : a number that evenly divides a larger number 6, 4, 3, and 2 are factors of 12.
3 : an amount by which another amount is multiplied or divided Costs increased/decreased by a factor of 10. [=costs were 10 times higher/lower than they had been]

## Full 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

factored; factoring\ ˈfak-​t(ə-​)riŋ \

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

## Other Words from factor

Noun

factorship \ ˈfak-​tər-​ˌship \ noun

Verb

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

## 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.

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.

## 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

Share factor

Time Traveler for factor

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

See more words from the same century

factor

## Statistics for factor

Last Updated

16 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Factor.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/factor. Accessed 20 Jan. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

More Definitions for factor

factor

noun
fac·​tor | \ ˈfak-tər \

## 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 \

## 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-​ \ 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

More from Merriam-Webster on factor

Britannica English: Translation of factor for Arabic Speakers

#### non sequitur

Farm Idioms Quiz

• What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

Words at Play