something that actually exists; reality; truth: Your fears have no basis in fact.
something known to exist or to have happened: Space travel is now a fact.
a truth known by actual experience or observation; something known to be true: Scientists gather facts about plant growth.
something said to be true or supposed to have happened: The facts given by the witness are highly questionable.
Law. Often facts. an actual or alleged event or circumstance, as distinguished from its legal effect or consequence.Compare question of fact, question of law.


    after the fact, Law. after the commission of a crime: an accessory after the fact.
    before the fact, Law. prior to the commission of a crime: an accessory before the fact.
    in fact, actually; really; indeed: In fact, it was a wonder that anyone survived.

Origin of fact

1530–40; < Latin factum something done, deed, noun use of neuter of factus done, past participle of facere to do1
Related formsfact·ful, adjective
Can be confusedfacts FAQs fax
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for fact

Contemporary Examples of fact

Historical Examples of fact

  • Her parents knew of this fact, but mine were ignorant of it.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • In fact, a large portion of the whole book was built on that anecdote.

    The Armourer's Prentices

    Charlotte M. Yonge

  • The country all the way, in fact, is most miserable and intolerable.

  • The "state," as a matter of fact, is quite a recent invention.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • As a matter of fact, "civilization" never remains long in the same spot.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

British Dictionary definitions for fact



an event or thing known to have happened or existed
a truth verifiable from experience or observation
a piece of informationget me all the facts of this case
law (often plural) an actual event, happening, etc, as distinguished from its legal consequences. Questions of fact are decided by the jury, questions of law by the court or judge
philosophy a proposition that may be either true or false, as contrasted with an evaluative statement
after the fact criminal law after the commission of the offencean accessory after the fact
before the fact criminal law before the commission of the offence
as a matter of fact, in fact or in point of fact in reality or actuality
fact of life an inescapable truth, esp an unpleasant one
the fact of the matter the truth
Derived Formsfactful, adjective

Word Origin for fact

C16: from Latin factum something done, from factus made, from facere to make
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 fact

1530s, "action," especially "evil deed," from Latin factum "event, occurrence," literally "thing done," neuter past participle of facere "to do" (see factitious). Usual modern sense of "thing known to be true" appeared 1630s, from notion of "something that has actually occurred." Facts of life "harsh realities" is from 1854; specific sense of "human sexual functions" first recorded 1913.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with fact


In addition to the idiom beginning with fact

  • facts of life

also see:

  • after the fact
  • in fact
  • is that a fact
  • matter of fact
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.