1. Commerce. the business of purchasing and collecting accounts receivable or of advancing cash on the basis of accounts receivable.
  2. the act or process of separating an equation, formula, cryptogram, etc., into its component parts.


  1. one of the elements contributing to a particular result or situation: Poverty is only one of the factors in crime.
  2. Mathematics. one of two or more numbers, algebraic expressions, or the like, that when multiplied together produce a given product; a divisor: 6 and 3 are factors of 18.
  3. Biochemistry. any of certain substances necessary to a biochemical or physiological process, especially those whose exact nature and function are unknown.
  4. a business organization that lends money on accounts receivable or buys and collects accounts receivable.
  5. a person who acts or transacts business for another; an agent.
  6. an agent entrusted with the possession of goods to be sold in the agent’s name; a merchant earning a commission by selling goods belonging to others.
  7. a person or business organization that provides money for another’s new business venture; one who finances another’s business.
  8. factor of production.
  9. Scot. the steward or bailiff of an estate.

verb (used with object)

  1. Mathematics. to express (a mathematical quantity) as a product of two or more quantities of like kind, as 30 = 2·3·5, or x2 − y2 = (x + y) (x − y).Compare expand(def 4a).
  2. to act as a factor for.

verb (used without object)

  1. to act as a factor.

Verb Phrases

  1. factor in/into, to include as an essential element, especially in forecasting or planning: You must factor insurance payments into the cost of maintaining a car.


  1. the business of a factor
  2. the business of purchasing debts from clients at a discount and making a profit from their collection


  1. an element or cause that contributes to a result
  2. maths
    1. one of two or more integers or polynomials whose product is a given integer or polynomial2 and 3 are factors of 6
    2. an integer or polynomial that can be exactly divided into another integer or polynomial1, 2, 3, and 6 are all factors of 6
  3. (foll by identifying numeral) med any of several substances that participate in the clotting of bloodfactor VIII
  4. a person who acts on another’s behalf, esp one who transacts business for another
  5. commerce a business that makes loans in return for or on security of trade debts
  6. former name for a gene
  7. commercial law a person to whom goods are consigned for sale and who is paid a factorage
  8. (in Scotland) the manager of an estate


  1. (intr) to engage in the business of a factor

early 15c., “agent, deputy,” from Middle French facteur “agent, representative,” from Latin factor “doer or maker,” agent noun from past participle stem of facere “to do” (see factitious). Sense of “circumstance producing a result” is from 1816.


1610s, “act as an agent,” from factor (n.). The use in mathematics is attested from 1837. Related: Factored; factoring.


  1. One that contributes in the cause of an action.
  2. A mathematical component that by multiplication makes up a number or expression.
  3. A gene.
  4. A substance, such as a vitamin, that functions in a specific biochemical reaction or bodily process, such as blood coagulation.


  1. One of two or more numbers or expressions that are multiplied to obtain a given product. For example, 2 and 3 are factors of 6, and a + b and a – b are factors of a2 – b2.
  2. A substance found in the body, such as a protein, that is essential to a biological process. For example, growth factors are needed for proper cell growth and development.


  1. To find the factors of a number or expression. For example, the number 12 can be factored into 2 and 6, or 3 and 4, or 1 and 12.
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