noun, plural ac·tu·ar·ies.

Insurance. a person who computes premium rates, dividends, risks, etc., according to probabilities based on statistical records.
(formerly) a registrar or clerk.

Origin of actuary

1545–55; < Latin āctuārius shorthand writer, clerk, variant (with u of the action noun āctus act) of āctārius (āct(a) deeds, documents + -ārius -ary)
Related formsac·tu·ar·i·al [ak-choo-air-ee-uh l] /ˌæk tʃuˈɛər i əl/, ac·tu·ar·i·an, adjectiveac·tu·ar·i·al·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for actuary

Historical Examples of actuary

  • Assuredly, they who plan picnics are not animated by the spirit of an actuary.

    One Of Them

    Charles James Lever

  • The judge beckoned to the actuary and ordered him to read the indictment.

  • The sum to be given would be named without difficulty by an actuary.

    Ralph the Heir

    Anthony Trollope

  • Where is the actuary who can appraise the value of a man's opinions?

    Obiter Dicta

    Augustine Birrell

  • When it came his time to loosen up he never referred the waiter to an actuary.

British Dictionary definitions for actuary


noun plural -aries

a person qualified to calculate commercial risks and probabilities involving uncertain future events, esp in such contexts as life assurance
Derived Formsactuarial (ˌæktʃʊˈɛərɪəl), adjective

Word Origin for actuary

C16: (meaning: registrar): from Latin āctuārius one who keeps accounts, from actum public business, and acta documents, deeds. See act, -ary
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

Word Origin and History for actuary

1550s, "registrar, clerk," from Latin actuarius "copyist, account-keeper," from actus "public business" (see act (n.)). Modern insurance office meaning first recorded 1849.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

actuary in Culture



A mathematician who uses statistics to calculate insurance premiums.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.