factoid

noun

fac·​toid ˈfak-ˌtȯid How to pronounce factoid (audio)
1
: an invented fact believed to be true because it appears in print
2
: a briefly stated and usually trivial fact

Did you know?

Did you know that Norman Mailer coined the word factoid?

We can thank Norman Mailer for factoid: he used the word in his 1973 book Marilyn (about Marilyn Monroe), and he is believed to be the coiner of the word. In the book, he explains that factoids are "facts which have no existence before appearing in a magazine or newspaper, creations which are not so much lies as a product to manipulate emotion in the Silent Majority." Mailer's use of the -oid suffix (which traces back to the ancient Greek word eidos, meaning "appearance" or "form") follows in the pattern of humanoid: just as a humanoid appears to be human but is not, a factoid appears to be factual but is not. The word has since evolved so that now it most often refers to things that decidedly are facts, just not ones that are significant.

Example Sentences

The book is really just a collection of interesting factoids.
Recent Examples on the Web So there’s that little anthropological factoid that factors into this hydatid story as well. Left. Rebecca Kreston, Discover Magazine, 26 Jan. 2012 My own most probable case judgement is that this factoid is one of the ways that the American cultural elite is going to try and dismiss unpleasant possibilities. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 17 Jan. 2013 But an interesting factoid of the case is that justice was served thanks to dogs trained to sniff out electronics. Carl Engelking, Discover Magazine, 24 Aug. 2015 Sharkageddon didn't just contain an accidental slip of the tongue or the errant incorrect factoid. Christie Wilcox, Discover Magazine, 16 Aug. 2014 But Jamie Lee Curtis is an industry legend who’s been shilling hard for the film out in L.A., and the Halloween Ends press tour has often mentioned the factoid that, despite working in Hollywood for 45 years, she’s never been nominated for an Oscar. Vulture, 21 Oct. 2022 The author took a part of a factoid from #1 and put it as its own thing. Christie Wilcox, Discover Magazine, 23 Aug. 2013 Through a storied career, this factoid about her allows readers to see her in a new way. Alamin Yohannes, EW.com, 23 Aug. 2022 Goner’s reaction to that factoid was of demonstrably greater astonishment. Shirley Halperin, Variety, 28 July 2022 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

fact + -oid entry 1

First Known Use

1973, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of factoid was in 1973

Podcast

Dictionary Entries Near factoid

Cite this Entry

“Factoid.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/factoid. Accessed 26 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition

factoid

noun
fac·​toid ˈfak-ˌtȯid How to pronounce factoid (audio)
1
: a made-up piece of information thought to be true due to its appearance in print
2
: a brief often trivial news item

More from Merriam-Webster on factoid

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