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factor Meaning, Definition & Usage

  1. noun anything that contributes causally to a result
    • a number of factors determined the outcome
  2. noun an abstract part of something
    ingredient; constituent; component; element.
    • jealousy was a component of his character
    • two constituents of a musical composition are melody and harmony
    • the grammatical elements of a sentence
    • a key factor in her success
    • humor: an effective ingredient of a speech
  3. noun one of two or more integers that can be exactly divided into another integer
    • what are the 4 factors of 6?
  4. noun a businessman who buys or sells for another in exchange for a commission
    broker; agent.
  5. noun any of the numbers (or symbols) that form a product when multiplied together
  6. noun an independent variable in statistics
  7. noun (genetics) a segment of DNA that is involved in producing a polypeptide chain; it can include regions preceding and following the coding DNA as well as introns between the exons; it is considered a unit of heredity
    cistron; gene.
    • genes were formerly called factors
  8. verb resolve into factors
    factor in; factor out.
    • a quantum computer can factor the number 15
  9. verb be a contributing factor
    • make things factor into a company's profitability
  10. verb consider as relevant when making a decision
    factor in; factor out.
    • You must factor in the recent developments

Fac"tor noun
L. factor a doer: cf. F. facteur a factor. See Fact.
  1. (Law) One who transacts business for another; an agent; a substitute; especially, a mercantile agent who buys and sells goods and transacts business for others in commission; a commission merchant or consignee. He may be a home factor or a foreign factor. He may buy and sell in his own name, and he is intrusted with the possession and control of the goods; and in these respects he differs from a broker. Story. Wharton.
    My factor sends me word, a merchant's fled That owes me for a hundred tun of wine. Marlowe.
  2. A steward or bailiff of an estate. Scot. Sir W. Scott.
  3. (Math.) One of the elements or quantities which, when multiplied together, from a product.
  4. One of the elements, circumstances, or influences which contribute to produce a result; a constituent.
    The materal and dynamical factors of nutrition. H. Spencer.
Fac"tor transitive verb
imperfect & past participle Factored present participle & verbal noun Factoring
  1. (Mach.) To resolve (a quantity) into its factors.

Webster 1913