vec·​tor | \ ˈvek-tər How to pronounce vector (audio) \
plural vectors

Definition of vector

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a quantity that has magnitude and direction and that is commonly represented by a directed line segment whose length represents the magnitude and whose orientation in space represents the direction broadly : an element of a vector space
b : a course or compass direction especially of an airplane
2a : an organism (such as an insect) that transmits a pathogen from one organism or source to another The insect vector in malaria is the anopheline mosquito, a genus comprising many species around the world.— Frank Graham, Jr. — compare carrier sense 5a, reservoir sense 3
3 : an agent (such as a plasmid or virus) that contains or carries modified genetic material (such as recombinant DNA) and can be used to introduce exogenous genes into the genome of an organism


vectored; vectoring\ ˈvek-​t(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce vector (audio) \

Definition of vector (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to guide (something or someone, such as an airplane, its pilot, or a missile) in flight by means of a radioed vector
2 : to change the direction of (the thrust of a jet engine) for steering

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Other Words from vector


vector adjective
vectorial \ vek-​ˈtȯr-​ē-​əl How to pronounce vector (audio) \ adjective
vectorially \ vek-​ˈtȯr-​ē-​ə-​lē How to pronounce vector (audio) \ adverb

Examples of vector in a Sentence

Noun a mosquito that is the principal vector of yellow fever
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Although international trade is more commonly implicated as the vector for nonnative species introductions, tourism is an essential factor in understanding nonnative species patterns. Meghan Brown, Scientific American, 21 May 2021 Personal medical tech is an attack vector that is at the distinctly sexier end of a much larger problem: cyberattacks against medical devices and medical environments. Christian Espinosa, Forbes, 21 May 2021 The angle θb is the angle of this vector with respect to the ground. Rhett Allain, Wired, 19 May 2021 The cross-contamination with a viral vector for AstraZeneca vaccine, which was being made in the same plant, was detected by Johnson & Johnson on March 5 in a batch of vaccine manufactured between Jan. 19 and Feb. 21, according to Emergent's report., 19 May 2021 The one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine relies on an essential viral vector component manufactured by Emergent and other international facilities. Lucien Bruggeman, ABC News, 19 May 2021 The very rare blood clotting disorder was associated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which uses an adenovirus vector technology. Katia Hetter, CNN, 11 May 2021 But those companies, using a viral vector technology that is slower than mRNA vaccine production, have struggled. Washington Post, 6 May 2021 The fact that the both vaccines use a viral vector and both are associated with blood clots has led many health experts to think that the clotting issues of the two vaccines may share the same mechanism. Mousumi Som, The Conversation, 3 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb With its massive tires, all-wheel drive, and torque-vectoring rear differential, the Urus produced 1.04 g of grip on the skidpad and stopped from 70 mph in 150 feet, basically matching the stock version's results. Scott Oldham, Car and Driver, 19 Mar. 2020 On the street version, the front electric motors generate a torque-vectoring effect that manages traction while turning. Eric Adams, Wired, 17 Feb. 2020 The test vehicle, an all-wheel-drive Elite model, uses computerized torque vectoring to send up to 70% of the powertrain’s torque between axles, and 100% between wheels for better traction while cornering. Tribune News Service, cleveland, 25 Jan. 2020 The Sport Chrono package, which includes torque vectoring with a mechanical limited-slip differential, is also standard. Connor Hoffman, Car and Driver, 15 Jan. 2020 Both harnessed broader disruptive energies — away from entrenched party establishments and toward a more populist and nationally vectored politics. Fred Bauer, National Review, 13 Dec. 2019 In this case, take the attractive but dull-to-drive A7 fastback and give it a twin-turbo V8, uprated suspension, and a clever torque-vectoring rear diff, then build a few thousand each year. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, 24 Sep. 2019 But there is no single, vectored history of modernism. Michael Kimmelman, New York Times, 9 Oct. 2019 The all-wheel drive system is rear biased and electronically controlled, with full-time dynamic torque vectoring control. San Diego Union-Tribune, 6 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'vector.' 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 vector


1846, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1941, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for vector


earlier, short for radius vector, borrowed from Latin, "carrier, conveyer," from vec-, alternate stem of vehere "to convey, carry" + -tor, agent suffix — more at way entry 1

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Last Updated

4 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Vector.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for vector



English Language Learners Definition of vector

mathematics : a quantity (such as velocity) that has size and direction
technical : the course or direction of an airplane
biology : an insect, animal, etc., that carries germs that cause disease


vec·​tor | \ ˈvek-tər How to pronounce vector (audio) \

Kids Definition of vector

: a living thing (as a mosquito, fly, or tick) that carries and passes on a disease-causing microorganism


vec·​tor | \ ˈvek-tər How to pronounce vector (audio) \

Medical Definition of vector

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a quantity that has magnitude and direction and that is usually represented by part of a straight line with the given direction and with a length representing the magnitude
2 : an organism (as an insect) that transmits a pathogen from one organism or source to another fleas are vectors of plague — compare carrier sense 1a, reservoir sense 2
3 : an agent (as a plasmid or virus) that contains or carries modified genetic material (as recombinant DNA) and can be used to introduce exogenous genes into the genome of an organism

Other Words from vector

vectorial \ vek-​ˈtōr-​ē-​əl, -​ˈtȯr-​ How to pronounce vector (audio) \ adjective
vectored; vectoring\ -​t(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce vector (audio) \

Medical Definition of vector (Entry 2 of 2)

: to transmit (a pathogen or disease) from one organism to another : act as a vector for a disease vectored by flies

More from Merriam-Webster on vector

Nglish: Translation of vector for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of vector for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about vector


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