factor

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

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

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

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun One factor is that refinancing will be less attractive once rates begin to rise, Watters said. Julia Horowitz, CNN, 13 Jan. 2022 On the count related to Mr. Eisenman, a fiery Texan who talked back during cross-examination and was repeatedly chided by the judge, some jurors concluded that one factor cut against a conviction: Theranos had offered to buy back his shares. Meghan Bobrowsky, WSJ, 7 Jan. 2022 One significant factor is the Academy’s deadline for song submissions, which must be completed by Nov. 1. Clayton Davis, Variety, 6 Jan. 2022 Executives said one big factor in the growth has been HBO Max’s international rollout. David Bloom, Forbes, 5 Jan. 2022 Thomas said one contributing factor is how workers perceive management’s behavior in the lead-up to the union vote, and after. William Thornton | Wthornton@al.com, al, 5 Jan. 2022 One likely factor was a muted global response to previous military takeovers. Washington Post, 4 Jan. 2022 One factor is the virus’ ability to infect the lungs. Fortune, 4 Jan. 2022 One factor in what makes the chore dangerous for at-risk groups is the weather. Jay Cannon, USA TODAY, 3 Jan. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Several recent data points, which do not yet factor in the arrival of the Omicron variant, highlight the historically tight US labor market. Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN, 6 Jan. 2022 Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, whose team had three players in Covid protocols on Tuesday afternoon, says a competitive disadvantage did not factor into negotiations about playing on. Matt Sullivan, Rolling Stone, 22 Dec. 2021 Marshall, the spokesperson for Boudin, said politics did not factor into his charging decision. Alexei Koseff, San Francisco Chronicle, 30 Nov. 2021 But, interestingly, its early success is in China, where Google doesn’t factor. Basil Kronfli, Wired, 7 Nov. 2021 Youngkin’s supporters rejected Democrats’ portrayals of him as a Trump loyalist and argued Trump did not factor into the race. BostonGlobe.com, 28 Oct. 2021 The lack of size continues to factor into paint protection, where even Vučević isn’t prone to shot blocking. Julia Poe, chicagotribune.com, 1 Jan. 2022 Trying to factor in any high-altitude Colorado advantage is overthinking. Dom Amore, courant.com, 30 Dec. 2021 The other obstacle For Progress seeks to surmount is the difficulty that existing organizations have in trying to factor social impact into their work. Dane Stangler, Forbes, 27 Dec. 2021

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.

See More

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

Learn More About factor

Time Traveler for factor

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near factor

factoid

factor

factorage

See More Nearby Entries 

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
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for factor

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

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

Nglish: Translation of factor for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of factor for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about factor

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
True or False

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

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!