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 This was the major factor in our historically snowy winter of 2009-10. Washington Post, "Expect a colder and snowier winter than last year, but still somewhat mild overall.," 18 Nov. 2020 Latin pop and reggaetón are still a major factor in North American popular music, and likely will continue to be so for a long time. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "Five Burning Questions: Bad Bunny, Maluma and More Latin Stars Impacting the Hot 100's Top 20," 17 Nov. 2020 Child marriages are a major factor responsible for India’s high maternal and infant mortality rates. Priya Ranjan Sahu, Quartz India, "In one Indian state, Covid-19 has led to a spike in the number of child marriages," 16 Nov. 2020 The Supreme Court will also be a major factor in the ACA’s future. Shefali Luthra, USA TODAY, "Health care: What Joe Biden can accomplish even with a GOP-controlled Senate," 12 Nov. 2020 The pandemic was a major factor in changing voter behavior this year. Matt Stiles, Los Angeles Times, "L.A.'s $300-million voting system gets high marks as votes trickle in across California," 10 Nov. 2020 Injuries were a major factor in that disappointing showing. Scott Kushner, NOLA.com, "Sources: Pelicans parting ways with assistant coach Jamelle McMillan," 8 Nov. 2020 Ward 14 Councilwoman Jasmin Santana believes the strain of the pandemic was the major factor in low turn-out. Cameron Fields, cleveland, "Apathy, poverty and changing population dynamics contribute to Cleveland’s low voter turnout," 6 Nov. 2020 For 83% of Pennsylvanians, the economy is a major voting factor, according to the poll. Zak Hudak, CBS News, "Pennsylvania 2020 election results," 3 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Rudolf, Wilmers and Rasher all say their work shows that future climate change research needs to factor in ecosystem complexity more effectively. Nancy Averett, Scientific American, "Otters Show How Predators Can Blunt Climate Damage," 18 Nov. 2020 Supply constraints will continue to factor into the current period ending in December—which Peloton has projected as its first billion-dollar-revenue quarter. Dan Gallagher, WSJ, "Peloton Needs a Breather," 9 Nov. 2020 Don’t forget to factor in preheating time if your recipe doesn’t include it. Nicole Papantoniou, Good Housekeeping, "5 Small Kitchen Appliances That Will Change Your Life," 6 Nov. 2020 Of those, Redding, Restrepo, Flagg and Balom would’ve figured to factor into the game in some capacity. David Furones, sun-sentinel.com, "Hurricanes hope to get unavailable players back for N.C. State, took look within during bye," 2 Nov. 2020 The mayors, covering cities around all Big Ten schools except for Nebraska, Illinois and Rutgers, asked the conference to factor in case counts of surrounding communities when deciding whether to hold games. Gillian R. Brassil, New York Times, "The Big Ten’s Rocky Road Back to Football," 23 Oct. 2020 Homewood-Flossmoor only had four finishers and did not factor into the scoring. Jeff Vorva, chicagotribune.com, "On the fast track: Lockport’s Wil Kiley and Lincoln-Way Central’s Jay Parker pick up pace to win SouthWest Suburban Conference titles," 16 Oct. 2020 While Howard's status as one of the country's historically black colleges and universities is a perk, Richardson said that ultimately didn't factor into his decision to enroll. Holly V. Hays, The Indianapolis Star, "'The sky is the limit': Tindley grad accepted to 65 colleges will go to Howard University," 20 Aug. 2020 While Howard's status as one of the country's historically Black colleges and universities is a perk, Richardson said that ultimately didn't factor into his decision to enroll. Holly V. Hays, USA TODAY, "'The sky is the limit': Indiana grad accepted to 65 colleges will go to Howard University," 19 Aug. 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

23 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Factor.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/factor. Accessed 4 Dec. 2020.

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More Definitions for factor

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

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

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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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