Definition of factor in English:



  • 1A circumstance, fact, or influence that contributes to a result.

    ‘his skill was a factor in ensuring that so much was achieved’
    ‘she worked fast, conscious of the time factor’
    • ‘Timely administration is a key factor in achieving positive results with hyaluronidase.’
    • ‘The excessive intake of food also puts a heavy burden on the pancreas and speeds the ageing process, which is a risk factor in diabetes.’
    • ‘However, on hearing evidence and viewing a security video taken at the scene, she said the restraint used had been a contributory factor in his death.’
    • ‘From the point of conception onwards, parents are now viewed as a risk factor in their children's lives.’
    • ‘It is thought the bidders involved in the previous submission had built in a risk factor in case they lost money on the scheme, which meant the overall price went up.’
    • ‘While wet conditions have been cited as a contributing factor in the shaky landing, it's still too early to know what went wrong, said Armour.’
    • ‘She stresses that all mini-melon lines are the result of natural breeding and that genetics is probably the biggest factor in her results.’
    • ‘The National Safety Council says faulty vehicles are a contributory factor in just 1% of road accidents.’
    • ‘The small sample size was obviously a confounding factor in interpreting the results.’
    • ‘School may not be the number one source of stress for everyone, but it certainly is a contributing factor in most cases.’
    • ‘Speed must have been a contributory factor in some or all the collisions on the stretch and at least 20 per cent of drivers on the road must exceed the speed limit.’
    • ‘What is the greatest factor in contributing to childhood obesity?’
    • ‘Some scientists believe that a chronic shortage of dietary calcium is a contributing factor in developing osteoporosis.’
    • ‘The result will be a factor in his decision making.’
    • ‘The safety campaigners point out that speed is a contributory factor in more than 1,100 deaths on Britain's roads every year.’
    • ‘Make no mistake about it, circumstance is a key factor in whether a player lives up to expectations in this league.’
    • ‘A strong dynamic relationship with neighbouring Derry is a contributory factor in the Donegal town's elevation to city status.’
    • ‘Similarly, family and friends of students have been considered an influential factor in choosing an agriculture major.’
    • ‘A key factor in the result was the large voter turnout, which ranged from 76 to 85 percent across the main electorates.’
    • ‘Obesity is a risk factor in diabetes, heart disease, renal failure, joint problems and possibly cancer.’
    element, part, component, ingredient, strand, constituent, point, detail, item, feature, facet, aspect, characteristic, consideration, influence, circumstance, thing, determinant
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    1. 1.1Biology A gene that determines a hereditary characteristic.
      ‘the Rhesus factor’
      • ‘These relationships among genes and transcription factors are the genetic regulatory network.’
      • ‘These findings provide insights into how genomes and environmental factors interact to determine phenotypes.’
      • ‘In related studies, the genetic factors determining the conformation of curd was analyzed.’
      • ‘Homeobox genes encode transcription factors involved in many aspects of developmental processes.’
      • ‘However, it remains unclear what factors determine the rate of evolution of gene expression.’
  • 2A number or quantity that when multiplied with another produces a given number or expression.

    ‘an amount that exceeds it by a factor of 1000 or more’
    • ‘A meter is the basic unit of length but shorter and longer units are obtained by multiplication by factors of ten.’
    • ‘Here, the change often seemed to be proportional to the molecular weight of the solute multiplied by a factor of two, three or four.’
    • ‘Take the maximum draw weight of the bow required and multiply this by a factor of 5.’
    • ‘The micropipette diameter was also measured, and the value multiplied by a factor of 0.92.’
    • ‘Multiply your X factor by 159 to reach a daily total of 2,067 calories a day.’
    1. 2.1Mathematics A number or algebraic expression by which another is exactly divisible.
      • ‘So what about those Fibonacci numbers with no factors (apart from 1 and itself, of course)?’
      • ‘The fraction 10/12 can be reduced, because both the numerator and denominator have factors of 2.’
      • ‘A number that only has two factors, one and itself, is called a prime number.’
  • 3A level on a scale of measurement.

    • ‘For tropical sun exposure, a protection factor of 15 or higher should be more than adequate for all day exposure.’
    • ‘As expected, the sympathy factor has tilted the scales of a nation already dissatisfied with the government.’
    • ‘Asked to rate the stress factors on a scale of one to 10, the respondents gave education reforms a mean score of 7.84.’
    • ‘To assess the temporal scale of global synchronizing factors, we used both prewhitening and detrending.’
    • ‘You can select from the standard list of scale factors or key in your own.’
    • ‘Your weirdness factor goes off the scale of this test.’
    • ‘This simple example iterates through the viewport objects defined in the drawing and lists their names and scale factors.’
    • ‘That first impression's got to rate pretty high on my fear factor scale.’
    • ‘It has the simple interpretation that treatment accelerates or decelerates the lifetime by a scale factor.’
    • ‘The scale factor by which custom rates must be adjusted to capture all ownership and operating costs at various farm sizes will be estimated.’
    • ‘The function a is called the scale factor, because it tells us the size of the Universe.’
    • ‘These varying effects can be accounted for by using a scale factor.’
    • ‘There's nothing tricky to the coding - it just zooms to the extents, then zooms again by a scale factor.’
    • ‘The output scale factor of an accelerometer is simply how many volts output are provided per g of applied acceleration.’
    • ‘Items on the scales reflect factors in the school, community, family and personal levels.’
    • ‘They rate the job on a Likert Scale against defined job factors.’
    • ‘Clinical factors graded on a scale of 0 to 3 were reported as medians and interquartile ranges.’
    • ‘For the six other species, synchrony was weak but there was no generality for the scale of synchronizing factors which could be local or global.’
    • ‘A quick command displays the scale factor for the selected viewport.’
    1. 3.1 (with numeral) a sunscreen of the sun protection factor specified.
      ‘factor 30 sun cream’
      • ‘The application of sunscreen with an SPF factor of 8 reduces production of vitamin D by 95%.’
      • ‘For tropical sun exposure, a protection factor of 15 or higher should be more than adequate for all day exposure.’
  • 4Physiology
    Any of a number of substances in the blood, mostly identified by numerals, which are involved in coagulation.

    • ‘Supplying a blood coagulation factor through transfusion is the main treatment for the disease.’
    • ‘Coagulation factors circulate as zymogens and platelet procoagulant surfaces are internalized.’
    • ‘In recent years literature is emerging on the role of different factors of blood coagulation in arterial thrombosis.’
    • ‘These include a change in the balance between procoagulant and anticoagulant factors in the blood.’
    • ‘In hemostasis, there is a balance between procoagulant factors and natural anticoagulant proteins.’
  • 5An agent who buys and sells goods on commission.

    ‘his father was chief factor for the Hudson's Bay Company’
    • ‘The brassfounders' traditional use of factors and agents accounts for the maddening anonymity of the catalogues.’
    • ‘Each district was normally headed by a chief factor, who reported to the departmental governor.’
    agent, representative, deputy, middleman, intermediary, go-between
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    1. 5.1 A company that buys a manufacturer's invoices at a discount and takes responsibility for collecting the payments due on them.
      • ‘It is the factor who then receives payment from the importer.’
      • ‘Usually notice is given to the account debtor and the debts are collected directly by the factor.’
    2. 5.2Scottish A land agent or steward.
      ‘the house became home to the estate factor’
      • ‘Peter Ord, the factor of Balmoral Estate, said he hoped that work would start on the scheme within the next 12 months.’
      • ‘The factor who manages the estate is Peter Graham from Bidwells in Inverness.’
      • ‘Patrick Thomson, the factor of Ben Alder Estate, said the plan was to demolish the bothy and replace it with modern workshops.’
      • ‘Within two years they were selling paintings and objets d' art, and within five years they had moved into the estate factor's house and mothballed Whittingehame.’
      • ‘You will also need to rebuild and maintain estate roads and employ a factor (an estate manager).’
      manager, estate manager, agent, overseer, custodian, caretaker
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    3. 5.3archaic An agent, deputy, or representative.
      • ‘This was the official report of the expedition that Biedma, as factor to the king, wrote to the "King of Spain in Council".’
      • ‘Now a gentleman called Antigono happened to arrive in Paphos on business; he was of a great age and of greater wisdom but of only modest wealth, for he had acted in a number of transactions as factor to the King of Cyprus but luck had gone against him.’


  • 1Mathematics

    ‘last year researchers factored a number 155 digits long’
    another term for factorize
    • ‘Every positive integer can be factored into the product of prime numbers, and there's only one way to do it for every number.’
    • ‘It meant that the resources needed to use previously known algorithms for factoring numbers of a given size could now be used to factor significantly larger numbers.’
    • ‘But if you could factor large numbers then you could break these codes.’
    • ‘Is there some way of identifying whether a number has an odd or even number of distinct prime factors without factoring?’
    • ‘I don't understand how to start out factoring this algebra.’
  • 2(of a company) sell (its invoices) to a factor.

    ‘they collected rents while he factored these forfeited estates’
    • ‘It also includes other facilities with specific purposes such as leasing of fixed assets, factoring and invoice discounting.’
    • ‘Consider factoring or invoice discounting - drawing down bank finance against your debtor balance.’
    • ‘Thus in block discounting and factoring the trader sells the debts due to him from his customers to his financier at a discount.’
    • ‘Of considerably more importance is that Scanchem is now factoring its invoices, and thus increasing its apparent borrowing, the outstanding amounts being secured by a charge on the book debts of the company, as is normal.’
    • ‘They were however concerned that they might be factoring bogus invoices.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • factor something in (or out)

    • Include (or exclude) something as a relevant element when making a decision.

      ‘when the psychological costs are factored in, a different picture will emerge’
      • ‘The Department of Education had estimated the bill for compensation would reach €508m, rising to €610m when legal and administration costs were factored in.’
      • ‘Union officials estimated that when factors such as the cost of health benefits were factored in, the company's proposal amounted to a 40 cent per hour pay cut.’
      • ‘He estimates the budget at $20,000 in cash and donations, and well over ten times that much if actor, location, music, and crew contributions are factored in.’
      • ‘Every time we hear of an interest rate hike, people at home, consumers, people like you and me, want to know how does that affect us, and how long before the hike is factored in?’
      • ‘Puppeteers argue their fees are low if their working hours are factored in, including preparation for the show and the cleanup.’
      • ‘Courts Service chief executive officer PJ Fitzpatrick said they did not see the original lease until much later and were unaware refurbishment costs were factored in to the rental price.’
      • ‘When anxieties, other fears and sleep disturbances were factored in, the prevalence of depression among all women increased to about 16%.’
      • ‘This figure holds after many other influences are factored out.’
      • ‘After capital gains are factored in, home owners made a gain of £5,000, which he says shows that it remains overwhelmingly advantageous to buy rather than to rent.’
      • ‘Air conditioning costs are factored out, so the drop isn't a reflection of the cooler spring.’


Late Middle English (meaning ‘doer’, also in the Scots sense ‘agent’): from French facteur or Latin factor, from fact- ‘done’, from the verb facere.