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[fak-uh l-tee] /ˈfæk əl ti/
noun, plural faculties.
an ability, natural or acquired, for a particular kind of action:
a faculty for making friends easily.
one of the powers of the mind, as memory, reason, or speech:
Though very sick, he is in full possession of all his faculties.
an inherent capability of the body:
the faculties of sight and hearing.
exceptional ability or aptitude:
a president with a faculty for management.
  1. the entire teaching and administrative force of a university, college, or school.
  2. one of the departments of learning, as theology, medicine, or law, in a university.
  3. the teaching body, sometimes with the students, in any of these departments.
the members of a learned profession:
the medical faculty.
a power or privilege conferred by the state, a superior, etc.:
The police were given the faculty to search the building.
Ecclesiastical. a dispensation, license, or authorization.
Origin of faculty
1350-1400; Middle English faculte < Anglo-French, Middle French < Latin facultāt- (stem of facultās) ability, power, equivalent to facil(is) easy (see facile) + -tāt- -ty2; cf. facility
Related forms
interfaculty, noun, plural interfaculties, adjective
profaculty, adjective
underfaculty, noun, plural underfaculties.
1. capacity, aptitude, knack, potential, skill.
Synonym Study
1. See ability. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for faculties
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Now there was something so compelling about her tone that he bent all his faculties to the task.

  • We have no idea of the Supreme Being but what we learn from reflection on our own faculties.

  • When he recovered his faculties his first sensation was one of great cold.

    The Slave Of The Lamp Henry Seton Merriman
  • The subject abstracted their attention, and engrossed all their faculties.

  • Men are not equal, either in their faculties or in their requirements.

    Freeland Theodor Hertzka
  • But where the mind is too deeply interested, there it is that the faculties are most treacherous.

    Imogen William Godwin
  • It was some minutes before his faculties took in the meaning of his surroundings.

    The Law-Breakers Ridgwell Cullum
  • What would any of us have been, if our fathers hadn't drawed our faculties out of us?

    Barnaby Rudge Charles Dickens
  • What would my boy Joe have been, if I hadn't drawed his faculties out of him?

    Barnaby Rudge Charles Dickens
British Dictionary definitions for faculties


noun (pl) -ties
one of the inherent powers of the mind or body, such as reason, memory, sight, or hearing
any ability or power, whether acquired or inherent
a conferred power or right
  1. a department within a university or college devoted to a particular branch of knowledge
  2. the staff of such a department
  3. (mainly US & Canadian) all the teaching staff at a university, college, school, etc
all members of a learned profession
(archaic) occupation
Word Origin
C14 (in the sense: department of learning): from Latin facultās capability; related to Latin facilis easy
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for faculties

early 16c., "powers or properties of one's self," also "physical functions;" plural of faculty.



late 14c., "ability, means, resources," from Old French faculté (14c.) "skill, accomplishment, learning," and directly from Latin facultatem (nominative facultas) "power, ability, wealth," from *facli-tat-s, from facilis (see facile).

Academic sense "branch of knowledge" probably was the earliest in English (attested in Anglo-Latin from late 12c.), on notion of "ability in knowledge." Originally each department was a faculty; the use in reference to the whole teaching staff of a college dates from 1767.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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faculties in Medicine

faculty fac·ul·ty (fāk'əl-tē)
A natural or specialized power of a living organism.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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