Definition of agent in English:



  • 1A person who acts on behalf of another person or group.

    ‘in the event of illness, a durable power of attorney enabled her nephew to act as her agent’
    • ‘For example, agents must not use their position to acquire benefits for themselves at the expense of their principals.’
    • ‘The mining company will host an international meeting for all agents involved in the handling and transportation of its copper and cobalt up to the final destination.’
    • ‘He can also call for the working papers (linking documents) that the taxpayer's agent has used to compile a set of accounts from the basic records.’
    • ‘Most of our goods, even those coming from South Africa, are sourced through local agents.’
    • ‘This has been confirmed to me by the legal agent acting on my behalf.’
    • ‘Clients of this firm should not panic as we have appointed an agent to look after their interests.’
    • ‘Women must rely on male agents to deal with government offices and conduct many business transactions.’
    • ‘You stated that the immigration officer did ask you questions but you were given instructions by the agent and the agent replied on your behalf.’
    • ‘The money raised will be used to hire a planning agent to represent the group at an appeal hearing next month.’
    • ‘In that case, the plaintiff retained an agent to find a warehouse property of approximately 50,000 square feet.’
    representative, negotiator, business manager, emissary, envoy, factor, go-between, proxy, surrogate, trustee, liaison, broker, delegate, spokesperson, spokesman, spokeswoman, frontman, mouthpiece
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    1. 1.1A person who manages business, financial, or contractual matters for an actor, performer, writer, etc.
      ‘his agent was able to negotiate a long-term contract’
      • ‘But one of the strongest arguments on behalf of sports agents is that they can help athletes preserve and grow their wealth.’
      • ‘Well, you know what we found out was that there are a lot of people in her life who are not famous - agents, publicists, promoters.’
      • ‘With a considerably larger cast of main characters, this second novel takes in three generations and a wide milieu of itinerant bed-hopping actors, theatrical agents and journalists.’
      • ‘Before long, I established a relationship with him that was part publicist, part business agent, and part supplier.’
      • ‘In a first letter to the club, Magnier and McManus questioned the role of agents in recent transfers in and out of United, and the money paid to them by United.’
      • ‘At times I wonder why some of the actors have agents in Hollywood whereas I strongly feel that an Indian star will look the best in an Indian flick.’
      • ‘Actors, agents and managers go home happy with a tasty 10-15% of their clients' payday.’
      • ‘Young women writers (and their agents and their editors) are making money and gaining power.’
      • ‘Not that Everett is exactly hassling his agent for alpha male roles.’
      • ‘The role of the publisher could change markedly and perhaps be collapsed into that of the writers and their business managers and agents.’
      • ‘I rarely deal with agents because we breed our own players and I won't deal with agents on their behalf.’
      • ‘I sent out 20 or 30 copies of the first three chapters to agents and I had six agents who wanted to represent me.’
      • ‘But behind the scenes there are angry agents, frustrated writers and a queue of people itching to say, ‘I told you so.’’
      • ‘By that time, I was in the sort of semi-media business as an agent handling writers.’
      • ‘If he is able to explore his options, don't be surprised if at least 10 teams make an initial call to his agent on Spikes' behalf.’
      • ‘So then I get bombarded with 18 million resumes and 8x10s, and I'm being chased down the street by agents and actors, and so I get on a boat and sail out to sea.’
      • ‘I was rehearsing for a small part in Chicago, though my agent felt a understudy role in Alabama was more likely.’
      • ‘‘Everyone wanted a rave film; agents were telling writers to do a rave film,’ he recalls about the early days of development.’
    2. 1.2A person or company that provides a particular service, typically one that involves organizing transactions between two other parties.
      ‘speak to your letting agent about refurbishing the property’
      • ‘Moreover, a company will need to make sure that it's getting the right level of service from a third party serving as the outsourcing agent for many different organizations.’
      • ‘Some mobile service agents will also provide you with a replacement mobile phone while yours is being repaired.’
      • ‘Lots of people give advice - lenders, real-estate agents, brokers.’
      • ‘Developers or agents often provide a letting agency as part of their service but the information you gather here is unlikely to provide a truly objective view.’
      • ‘The new system will improve service for agents and distributors and provide a platform to enhance sales-force effectiveness.’
      • ‘In BVI, the Bahamas, Niue, and the Seychelles, the parent company acts solely as a company formation agent and provides related services.’
      • ‘The real estate institutes imply that their agents are not involved.’
      • ‘I'm sure that most customers would prefer to have a service agent much closer to office or home, and not need to have the added customer service of a courtesy car.’
      • ‘Another service such agents provide is a temporary loan.’
      • ‘Called EstateCraft it offers a complete business solution for residential and commercial estate agents, letting and business transfer agents.’
      • ‘She did not advertise the unit for rent, nor did she employ the services of a rental agent or of a real estate firm.’
      • ‘Communicate with buyers and organic certifying agents concerning GMO contamination issues.’
      • ‘From a product manufacturer's viewpoint, there continues to be a growing need to provide value-added services to agents.’
      • ‘Property agents and consultancy companies whose information network and service quality are poor will find no recourse but to leave the playing field.’
      • ‘There will also be private shows, which involve one or two agents and developers running their own exhibition in a hotel.’
      agency, business, organization, company, firm, office, bureau, concern, service
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    3. 1.3A person who works secretly to obtain information for a government or other official body.
      ‘a trained intelligence agent’
      • ‘And in an exclusive behind the scenes look at undercover agents fighting a secret war in this country.’
      • ‘This investigation, like others, will be conducted by FBI agents and Justice Department officials.’
      • ‘The Interior Ministry will also command a domestic intelligence network made up largely of secret police and intelligence agents from the ousted government.’
      • ‘Virginia Hall served as an intelligence agent during World War II.’
      • ‘Crooks, spies, and intelligence agents of all stripes began flooding into the United States.’
      • ‘The planes land many times at Camp Peary in Virginia, known as ‘The Farm,’ where CIA agents are trained in espionage.’
      • ‘A senior law enforcement official said FBI agents confiscated classified documents he was carrying and questioned him before he was handed over to the military.’
      • ‘Intelligence gathered by human agents was vital to attaining the first goal.’
      • ‘It urged amendments to federal and provincial laws so that undercover agents could legally obtain false identification documents.’
      • ‘And the need to field a new army of spies and intelligence agents to track down and destroy terrorism is clear.’
      • ‘So intensive was the surveillance that agents obtained a photocopy of the passport and visa stamp and delivered it to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.’
      • ‘Tofte began to recruit, train and insert agents who would gather intelligence behind enemy lines.’
      • ‘Intelligence agents obtained the tape during a search of a private house in Jalalabad after it was abandoned by the Taliban and officials are now debating whether to release the tape.’
      • ‘CI agent training focuses on methods to detect and counter enemy intelligence efforts and to conduct investigations.’
      • ‘But without the information from FBI intelligence agents, his grand jury didn't have enough evidence to return indictments.’
      • ‘As a private attorney, he works without charge to help hundreds of intelligence agents obtain lawful permission to declassify and publish the hidden secrets of our times.’
      • ‘On the other hand, many of the CIA's best agents through the years have been intelligence volunteers.’
      • ‘It ruled that from then on, every last communication between intelligence agents and law-enforcement officials required its approval.’
      • ‘One official claimed that intelligence agents had recovered a ‘treasure trove’ of documents during the Pakistan raid.’
      • ‘I have spoken to numerous FBI and CIA counter-terrorist agents, all of whom tell a similar story.’
      spy, secret agent, undercover agent, operative, fifth columnist, mata hari
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  • 2A person or thing that takes an active role or produces a specified effect.

    ‘universities are usually liberal communities that often view themselves as agents of social change’
    • ‘In addition, our study contributes to a greater understanding of newly appointed CEOs in their roles as change agents.’
    • ‘That's what separates the successful agents of musical change from the failures: respect for and knowledge of the past.’
    • ‘She was an agent of chaos, and she was also a genius.’
    • ‘It would be useful for future studies to explore the role of other sociocultural agents, such as schools and teachers, in influencing attitudes and behaviors.’
    • ‘Its new promotional campaign positions the company as an agent in the war against inequality.’
    • ‘The bottom line is that the state will continue to evolve from the traditional welfare role towards an agent of modernisation and structural reform.’
    • ‘His conviction as a humanitarian made him a revolutionary and an agent for change.’
    • ‘The organisations and the people in them can become the agents of change.’
    • ‘Though not always the makers of art, their role as agents in the shaping of dynamic artistic cultures was vital and remains poorly understood.’
    medium, means, instrument, vehicle
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    1. 2.1A substance that brings about a chemical or physical effect or causes a chemical reaction.
      ‘there is an urgent need for new antimicrobial agents to combat infections’
      ‘the bleaching agent used is hydrogen peroxide’
      • ‘Some immunotherapy agents have serious side effects that can cause breathing difficulties and heart failure.’
      • ‘For patients with acid reflux, bulimia, or alcoholism, antacids or acid-reducing agents may be given to help reduce tooth erosion.’
      • ‘The changes in lung tissue suggest that part of the lung damage is due to cytokines induced by the microbial agent.’
      • ‘Oral antibiotics have significantly more side effects, especially gastrointestinal effects, than topical agents.’
      • ‘Elderly patients should not be treated with tertiary amines because of the greater anticholinergic effects of these agents.’
      • ‘Bleaching agents can be applied that will give the decking a silvered weathered look.’
      • ‘LDL cholesterol is isolated from a blood sample and exposed to an oxidizing agent.’
      • ‘The chemical is used as a bleaching agent in most household cleaning products and as a disinfectant for water and swimming pools.’
    2. 2.2Grammar The doer of an action, typically expressed as the subject of an active verb or in a by phrase with a passive verb.
      • ‘We need a term for this phenomenon, in which the agent is changed to avoid using an imperative.’
      • ‘Through the use of the passive voice, the agent which designs ‘these carefully targeted actions’ has been left unspecified.’
      • ‘In such cases, the -or is generally interpreted as an agent suffix like the vernacular -er: author is as invariable in its spelling as writer.’
      • ‘For instance, when we describe one person as having killed another, we imply that the first person - the agent of the action - caused the death of the second person.’
      • ‘While the pivot of an intransitive clause is the core-argument of the verb, the pivot of a transitive clause is not its agent but its patient.’
      doer, performer, author, executor, perpetrator, operator, operative, mover, producer
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    3. 2.3Computing An independently operating Internet program, typically one that performs background tasks such as information retrieval or processing on behalf of a user or other program.
      • ‘Once verified, the proxy agent completes the connection to the protected network element on behalf of the source of the incoming request.’
      • ‘But it always lacked focus, initially positioning itself as a intelligent agent software and handheld operating system developer.’
      • ‘Software agents are programs that cooperate with each other in unpredictable environments without human intervention.’
      • ‘Software agents are semi-intelligent computer programs that help users with the overload of information and the complexity of the online world.’
      • ‘Host-based IPSs protect servers and workstations via software agents that are placed between applications and the operating system's kernel.’


Late Middle English (in the sense ‘someone or something that produces an effect’): from Latin agent- doing, from agere.