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

Noun a mosquito that is the principal vector of yellow fever
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun This may be because their immune systems quickly recognized the adenovirus and focused their responses on the viral vector, rather than the nefarious spike. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "China moves forward with COVID-19 vaccine, approving it for use in military," 30 June 2020 Rodents are the main vector of plague transmission from animals to humans, but the disease can also be passed on through flea bites. Jack Guy And Mary Ilyushina, CNN, "Bubonic plague outbreak prompts crack down on marmot hunting," 7 July 2020 However, on July 1, the governor ordered bars in lower and central Michigan to close again due to rising COVID-19 case counts and reports of bars as vector points. Mark Kurlyandchik, Detroit Free Press, "New data shows Detroit restaurant recovery slower than in other cities," 7 July 2020 Outside the body, scientists can inject Crispr’s component parts directly into cells instead of relying on a viral vector. Megan Molteni, Wired, "This Company Wants to Rewrite the Future of Genetic Disease," 7 July 2020 But there’s no evidence so far suggesting that pets are a vector in spreading disease among humans. Natasha Daly, National Geographic, "A German shepherd is first dog in the U.S. to test positive for the coronavirus," 4 June 2020 But ignoring basic steps that reduce the risk of tick and vector-borne illnesses to focus solely on Covid-19 prevention is just one danger. Ethan Harp, CNN, "Why tick season could be worse in the summer of Covid-19," 5 July 2020 The announcement makes Ad5-nCoV, an adenoviral vector, a clear front-runner in the global race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. Grady Mcgregor, Fortune, "In the coronavirus vaccine race, China is a surprise frontrunner," 2 July 2020 Dozens of embassy employees became sick last month, and more than 20 others were quarantined after a birthday barbecue became a potential vector for the spread of the disease. Mark Mazzetti, New York Times, "Late Action on Virus Prompts Fears Over Safety of U.S. Diplomats in Saudi Arabia," 1 July 2020 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, "Modified 2020 Lamborghini Urus Is the Quickest SUV We've Ever Tested," 19 Mar. 2020 On the street version, the front electric motors generate a torque-vectoring effect that manages traction while turning. Eric Adams, Wired, "How a Street-Smart Supercar Got Ready for the Racetrack," 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, "The 2020 Honda Passport’s excellence shines through its benign demeanor (review)," 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, "Porsche 718 Boxster and Cayman GTS Have Flat-Six Power Once Again," 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, "The Lessons American Conservatives Can Learn from the Tories’ Victory," 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, "The 2020 Audi RS7—our all-time favorite fastback just got even better," 24 Sep. 2019 But there is no single, vectored history of modernism. Michael Kimmelman, New York Times, "With a $450 Million Expansion, MoMA Is Bigger. Is That Better?," 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, "Kia K900: A crazy-rich VIP for the middle class," 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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Time Traveler for vector

Time Traveler

The first known use of vector was in 1846

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Statistics for vector

Last Updated

2 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Vector.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for vector


How to pronounce vector (audio)

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

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