factotum

noun fac·to·tum \ fak-ˈtō-təm \
|Updated on: 15 May 2018

Definition of factotum

1 : a person having many diverse activities or responsibilities
2 : a general servant

factotum was our Word of the Day on 02/06/2013. Hear the podcast!

Examples of factotum in a Sentence

  1. He was the office factotum.

Recent Examples of factotum from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'factotum.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Did You Know?

"Do everything!" That's a tall order, but it is exactly what a factotum is expected to do. It's also a literal translation of the New Latin term factotum, which in turn traces to the Latin words facere ("to do") and totum ("everything"). In the 16th century, factotum was used in English much like a surname, paired with first names to create personalities such as "Johannes Factotum" (literally "John Do-everything"). Back then, it wasn't necessarily desirable to be called a factotum; the term was a synonym of "meddler" or "busybody." Now the word is more often used for a handy, versatile individual responsible for many different tasks.

Origin and Etymology of factotum

from the Latin phrase fac tōtum "do all!", from fac (singular imperative of facere "to make, do" + tōtum "the whole, entirety," from neuter of tōtus "all, the whole of" — more at fact, 1total
Note: Perhaps originally short for dominus/domine factotum, magister factotum, and parallel expressions that mean approximately "jack-of-all-trades," though evidence for the isolated collocation fac totum is nearly as early. Martin Luther uses fac totum in the non-personal sense "that which does everything" in his commentary on Galatians (1535): "Est igitur fides fac totum (ut ita loquar) in operibus" ("It is faith, as I so speak, that is the do-all in works").


FACTOTUM Defined for English Language Learners

factotum

Definition of factotum for English Language Learners

  • : a person whose job involves doing many different types of work


Learn More about factotum


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