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

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

Examples of vector in a Sentence


a mosquito that is the principal vector of yellow fever

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Knowing someone virtually is not that different from knowing them offline, and social media provides a vector for violent contagion to spread. Marc Fisher, Anchorage Daily News, "Weekend of mass killing reflects how American violence goes viral," 5 Aug. 2019 And the varroa mite is also a vector for several debilitating bee viruses. National Geographic, "Episode 8: Honeybee chop shop," 30 July 2019 Those included disease dispersal vectors; how to persuade hunters to buy into state management tactics; the risk the disease poses to humans and the role insects might play in spreading prions, misshapen proteins that cause chronic wasting disease. Todd Richmond, Twin Cities, "‘Unprecedented’ Midwest CWD meeting yields no new approaches," 26 July 2019 The report, spearheaded by DeMaio and various vector control industry leaders, asks Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a public health emergency in the Golden State and require public entities to address the situation. Fox News, "Los Angeles, California cities 'overrun by rodents' that pose public health epidemic, study says," 18 July 2019 In the infamous 1974 Milliken v. Bradley decision, the Supreme Court held that federal courts could not typically include suburban districts in a desegregation order, ensuring that those districts would remain easy vectors for white flight. Will Stancil, The Atlantic, "The White Suburbs That Fought Busing Aren’t So White Anymore," 12 July 2019 Researchers like Christian Catalini—head economist for Facebook’s Calibra wallet and founder of MIT’s cryptoeconomics lab—understand potential attack vectors. Matthew De Silva, Quartz, "The winners and losers of Facebook’s Libra," 29 June 2019 Those third party vendors become the vector of attack. Dieter Bohn, The Verge, "Android malware once found a way onto phones before they even shipped," 6 June 2019 The app also lets artists draw with vector and raster brushes, combining the features of the Adobe Illustrator Draw and Photoshop Sketch iPad apps. Dami Lee, The Verge, "Adobe’s next iPad drawing app is called Adobe Fresco," 17 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Modern thrust vectoring technology employs a movable thrust nozzle in place of the paddles. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "China's New Upgrade Makes Its Fighter Jets Wildly Maneuverable," 7 Nov. 2018 Independent motors for each wheel grant the C_Two all-wheel torque vectoring (R-AWTV), and a dial inside the cabin can control the torque bias in 10 percent increments. The R-AWTV is just one of numerous advanced systems aboard the C_Two. Tony Markovich, Car and Driver, "With 1888 HP, the Rimac C_Two Puts Croatia on the Supercar Map," 7 Mar. 2018 An electric motor at each axle provides the all-wheel-drive Cross Turismo with a combined 590 horsepower as well as torque-vectoring abilities. Greg Fink, Car and Driver, "Porsche Mission E Cross Turismo Concept: It's an Electric Porsche Wagon," 6 Mar. 2018 Torque vectoring all-wheel drive is a $2,200 option with either engine. Dan Neil, WSJ, "2018 Kia Stinger GT2: The Best German Car to Come Out of South Korea," 6 Apr. 2018 Powertrains are unchanged from current Quadrifoglio spec, meaning that both vehicles carry the 505-hp twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V-6 engine, eight-speed ZF transmission, and Alfa’s torque-vectoring differential and Chassis Domain Control system. Andrew Wendler, Car and Driver, "NRING the Dragon: Nurburgring Edition Alfa Romeo Quadrifoglios Revealed," 5 Mar. 2018 View 24 Photos Honda-philes will be thrilled to learn the 2019 RDX marks the return of torque-vectoring all-wheel drive to the RDX. Andrew Wendler, Car and Driver, "2019 Acura RDX Crossover: Return of the Turbocharged Four," 29 Mar. 2018 The QF’s handling is also aided by a torque-vectoring rear differential that can send 100 percent of the torque to either rear wheel, as traction and driving modes dictate. Rich Ceppos, Car and Driver, "2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio," 3 Mar. 2018 The Super Hornets conferred with the USS Princeton and were vectored to a CAP point 60 miles away. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "That Time the U.S. Navy Had a Close Encounter With a UFO," 18 Dec. 2017

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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Statistics for vector

Last Updated

9 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for vector

The first known use of vector was in 1846

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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
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 vectorial (audio) \ adjective
vectored; vectoring\ -​t(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce vectoring (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

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More from Merriam-Webster on vector

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with vector

Nglish: Translation of vector for Spanish Speakers

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

Comments on vector

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marked by turns or indirection

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