Alternative spelling: fackte, factt, facte, ffact, fack, fect fak fect fac fack fac.
Etymology: A borrowing from Latin. Etymons:
Latin factum, facere.
Classical Latin "factum": deed, action, event, occurrence, achievement, misdeed, real happening, result of doing, something done.
In post-classical Latin also thing that has really occurred or is actually the case, thing known to be true (11th cent.; from 13th cent. in British sources), case, legal dispute (from 13th cent. in British sources), use as noun of neuter past participle of facere to make, do & lt; an extended form of the Indo-European base of "do", v.
Compare Old Occitan "fach", Catalan fet (13th cent.), Spanish hecho (12th cent. as "fecho"), (now archaic and rare) "facto" (late 14th cent.), Portuguese feito (13th cent.), Italian "fatto" (1292).
Compare earlier "feat" n., and also fait n., which show borrowings of the regular French reflex of classical Latin factum.
With the specific uses in law, compare factum n. 1.
In usage A. 5 probably after post-classical Latin "factus" product of two or more quantities (see factus n.); compare discussion at factum n.
USAGE A. n.
I. USAGES relating primarily to action.
An action, a deed, a course of conduct; (formerly also occas.) an effect, a result.
Also as a mass noun: action, deeds, as opposed to words.
Now somewhat rare. accomplished fact: see accomplished adj. Special uses.
1487 J. Skelton tr. Diodorus Siculus Bibliotheca Historica iii. 179
And in the main season he seith how among theire cronycles wherin the Parsians were accustumed by studious diligence theire yerely facts and acts to register of record, he founde out writyng of old memoriall historious and brought it over vnto the Griceians.
1513 H. Bradshaw Lyfe St. Radegunde (c1525) f 17,
By her fact and deed, she gauve examplary/unto her subgettes, and all the familee.
1545 G. Joye Expos. Daniel (xi.) f. 183v,
Let emprours and kinges folow this godly king's fact.
1592 W. West Symbolæogr.: 1st Pt. §2 E,
Right is the chiefest cause of obligations, the fact of man the remote cause.
1605 P. Woodhouse Flea sig. B3,
The minde doth make the fact, or good or ill.
1626 Bacon Sylua Syluarum §903
As they are not to mistake the causes of these operations; so, much lesse, they are to mistake the fact, or effect.
1643 W. Prynne Soveraigne Power Parl. App. 193
The fact of him who acts the guardian, is imputed to the Co-gurdians.
1711 Swift Sentiments Church of Eng.-man i, in Misc. 96
"A History of Facts done a Thousand Years ago."
1745 P. Thomas True Jrnl. Voy. South-Seas 206
At length he committed a fact that completed the destruction of himself and all his family.
1816 J. Austen Emma II. xii. 227
Gracious in fact if not in word.
1818 S. T. Coleridge Notebks. (1973) III. 4425
The mutual defustation of these rabious polemics—dapsile in dicts but feeble in facts.
1891 D. Murray Law relating to Prop. Married Persons ii. 25
If a married woman grants an obligation ad factum praestandum, e.g. to exhibit titles, and generally to perform facts which are in her own power, and cannot validly be performed but by herself, [etc.].
1917 E. Severn Psychol. Behavior iii. 144
Any idea, feeling, or sentiment recognized as arising from within, which does not take form in action, which does not express itself in fact or deed, is certain to react upon the mental organism to its serious detriment.
1985 Linguistics and Lang. Behavior Abstr. 19 125
Conditional relations between denoted or performed facts or acts are involved.
2005 D. Milch in J. P. Vest Wire, Deadwood, Homicide & NYPD Blue (2010) v. 136
Obscenity in word or fact or action is an offense against God and man and will not be depicted.
A NOBLE or brave deed, an exploit; a feat of valour or skill.
Chiefly as a contextual use of usage A. 1a, with modifying adjective, as martial, noble, or in phrases such as fact of arms, fact of war.
a1525 G. Myll Spectakle of Luf in W. A. Craigie Asloan MS (1923) I. 272 His gret besynes in the factis merciall.
1537 Bible (Matthew's) 2 Sam. xxiii. D, Not lyke to anye of the thre in factes of warre.
1543 R. Grafton Contin. in Chron. J. Hardyng (longer ed.) f. clviiv, For the whiche noble facte, the kynge created hym afterwarde duke of Norfolke.
1590 Marlowe Tamburlaine: 1st Pt. sig. C4v, His facts of war and blood.
1605 J. Stow Annales 481 Henry Hotespurre..taketh prayes, exercising laudable factes.
1667 Milton Paradise Lost ii. 124 He who most excels in fact of Arms.
1730 A. Gordon tr. F. S. Maffei Compl. Hist. Anc. Amphitheatres 321 Whether this wonderful Fact was performed in the Theatre or Amphitheatre, Xiphiline..leaves us in doubt.
1759 Mod. Part Universal Hist. I. i. i. 62 A most wonderful fact was wrought by Mohammed.
1846 in O. Rich Bibliotheca Americana Nova II. 222 This work was written by order of Ferdinand VII. and consequently is far from being an impartial history. It is however written with order, and some elegance, and the facts of arms, are related without the extravagance of the gazettes of that period.
1865 E. H. Ranyard Stones Crying Out v. 122 We have in Genesis the narrative of noble facts and deeds.
1924 Editor & Publisher 11 Oct. 26/1 Chief John Kenlon, of the New York Fire Department,..has written a series of five articles..telling of facts of heroism by firemen which he has witnessed.
2008 J. Corrado Creole Elite & Rise of Angolan Protonationalism i. 42 Portuguese archives..provide..documentation on every single fact of arms in which the Portuguese army was involved.
An EVIL deed, a crime; the perpetration or commission of such a deed or crime.
Now only in before the fact at Phrases 1a, after the fact at Phrases 1b.
The most common usage in the last quarter of the 16th cent. and first three quarters of the 17th.
fact of blackest (or deepest) dye: see dye n. 1b.
a1533 J. Frith in Test. W. Tracie (1535) sig. Biiij, Soo shall this enormous facte be loked vppon with worthye correction.
1539 Act 31 Hen. VIII c. 8 Euery such..person..shall be adiudged a traytour, and his facte high treason.
1577 W. Harrison Hist. Descr. Islande Brit. iii. vi. f. 107v/1, in R. Holinshed Chron. I He is..hanged..neere the place where the facte was commytted.
1586 T. Bowes tr. P. de la Primaudaye French Acad. I. 240 His sonne being taken with the fact,..Zaleucus would neuer suffer the punishment to be..lessened.
1603 Philotus lxxxiii. sig. Dv, For to commit sa foull ane fack.
1607 Statutes in M. H. Peacock Hist. Wakefield School (1892) iv. 58 Upon the notoriousnes of the fact of misdemeanour.
1689 in Colonial Rec. Pennsylvania (1852) I. 252 In a Provinciall Court held in ye County of Kent, where ye ffact was Committed.
a1715 Bp. G. Burnet Hist. Own Time (1724) I. 19 All who were concerned in that vile fact were pardoned.
1773 Ann. Reg. 1772 95 He was carried before Justice Russell, where he confessed the fact.
1810 R. Southey Curse of Kehama Notes 336 An Arab having been taken up for a similar crime, and convicted of it, for he confessed the fact.
The act or process of making, doing, or performing something.
In later use chiefly as a weakened use of sense A. 2, with reference to minor transgressions or improprieties, esp. in to catch a person in the fact (cf. to catch someone in the act at act n. Phrases 1).
1548 Hall's Vnion: Henry VI f. clvijv, These three articles, he denied either for fact or thought.
a1616 Shakespeare Henry VI, Pt. 2 (1623) ii. i. 174 Naughtie persons..Dealing with Witches and with Coniurers, Whom we haue apprehended in the Fact.
1626 Bacon Sylua Syluarum §795 Those effects which are wrought..by things in fact, are produced likewise in some degree by the imagination.
1631 B. Jonson Divell is Asse iii. iv. 49 in Wks. II A proiect, for the fact, and venting Of a new kinde of fucus.
1653 tr. S. Przypkowski Dissertatio de Pace xi. 55 Causes..not of our fact, and our avoiding.
1712 J. Addison Spectator No. 311. ¶1, I have my self caught a young Jackanapes..in the very Fact.
1768 O. Goldsmith Good Natur'd Man i. 4 What will you have done with him that I caught stealing your plate in the pantry? In the fact; I caught him in the fact.
1807 Salmagundi 4 Feb. 23 She was detected..in the very fact of laughing..at the description.
1816 Scott Antiquary I. iii. 49 A dirty bare-footed chambermaid threw down her duster, detected in the heinous fact of arranging the sanctum sanctorum, and fled out of an opposite door from the face of her incensed master.
1847 E. Brontë Wuthering Heights II. vii. 133 Cathy had been caught in the fact of plundering, or, at least, hunting out the nests of the grouse.
1879 A. Reed Alice Bridge of Norwich xxxvi. 355 It would be better to catch them in the fact, and so be able to rid the City of them at once.
USAGE 4, in Law.
An event or process which comes under the jurisdiction of a court of law.
1626 Bacon Elements Common Lawes (1630) 89
If tenant intaile discontinue, or suffer a descent, or doe anie other fact whatsoever.
USAGE 5. Math.
The product of two or more quantities; = factum n. 3.
1664 M. Dary Gen. Doctr. Equation (rev. ed.) ii. 5 Every trimm'd Equation is constituted by the Fact of all its equated Binomials; multiplied by the Cofactor in the first Term.
1673 J. Kersey Elem. Algebra I. i. iv. 15 A third Quantity, which is called the Product, the Fact, or the Rectangle.
1745 F. Holliday Syntagma Mathesios 199 The Logarithm of the first following Numbers, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, &c. may be so computed. Then let the Facts from the Numbers next set on each Side in the first Proposition be sought.
II. Senses relating primarily to truth.
The sum of circumstances and incidents of a case, looked at apart from their legal bearing.issue, presumption, question of fact: see the first element. See also attorney in fact at attorney n.1 2, matter in fact at matter n.1 13a, matter of fact n. 1a.
1531 Inventory in State Papers Henry VIII (P.R.O.: SP 1/62) f. 36 (heading) , A compendious annotacion of such pointes and articles as semeth most vehemently to impugne the matrimonie bitwene the kinges highnes and the quenes grace, the facte wherof is as folowith.
1570 J. Foxe Actes & Monumentes (rev. ed.) I. 443/1 Which all he proued by many reasons both of fact and lawe.
1583 Sir T. Smith's De Republica Anglorum ii. xiii. 57 The maner of the ciuill lawe where first the fact is examined by witnesses, indices, tormentes and such like probations to finde out the truth thereof, and that doone the aduocats doe dispute of the law to make of it what they can.
1671 W. Penn Truth Rescued 32 The Iury is Iudge of Law and Fact.
1736 M. Bacon New Abridgm. Law I. 296 If either of these had been found in this Special Verdict, it had been well; for then there had been Fact enough for the Law to have made Construction upon.
1831 U. S. Law Intelligencer & Rev. Apr. 126 The combination of fact and law is to be made, and the result drawn by the jury.
1893 H. F. Buswell Civil Liability for Personal Injuries arising out of Negligence v. 208 Sufficient testimony was disclosed to send the question of contributory negligence to the jury as one of fact.
1935 G. Glenn Law governing Liquidation 833 Money paid to a liquidator under mistake should be refunded, without regard to the question whether the mistake was of law or fact.
2000 J. M. Feinman Law 101 iv. 126 Labeling an issue as ‘law’ or ‘fact’ is simply a way for the judge to determine which issues he is willing to allow the jury to decide.
b. In pl. FACTS:
with the same sense. Also: items of information used or usable as evidence.
1583 T. Stocker tr. Tragicall Hist. Ciuile Warres Lowe Countries iv. f. 35v, The persones..to bee forthwith sent, and deliuered vp, into the power of their lawfull Iudge, for to be examined vpon the facte or factes and therevpon, the Lawe to be pronounced accordingly.
1641 M. Milward Sword-bearer 16 The Law presumes every man to be good, till he be apparantly bad; but when facts have made the contrarie evident, then [etc.].
1681 D. Jenkins Jenkinsius Redivivus 121 The House of Commons have imposed Fines, and imprisoned men..; Few Facts of late time, never questioned, make no power, nor Court.
1722 W. Forbes Inst. Law Scotl. I. iv. 230 Where Facts pleaded are not instantly verified, the Lord Ordinary admits the same to Proof.
1797 F. Hargrave Juridical Arguments & Coll. I. 366 It was found convenient to include in the opinion an abbreviated statement of the chief facts of the case.
1856 J. Campbell Atrocious Judges ii. 57 The lords took time to consider whether the impeachment was duly instituted, and whether the facts stated in the article amounted to high treason.
1905 D. W. Amram Leading Cases in Bible 211 One of them going so far as to invent facts for the purpose of proving his case.
1958 Introd. Sc. Legal Hist. (Stair Soc.) 442 The origin of the ‘Not proven’ verdict in Scots law is to be traced to the recognition of the inability of an unskilled jury to interpret the significance of particular facts.
2006 Weekly Law Rep. 1 1907 Counsel for the appellant re-examined the witness on the background facts leading to the caution.
USAGE 7: That which is known (or firmly believed) to be real or true; what has actually happened or is the case; truth attested by direct observation or authentic testimony; reality.in reality of fact: see reality n. Phrases 1. Theatre of Fact: see theatre n. 3f. See also matter of fact n. 1.
1542 T. Becon Newes out of Heauen Prol. sig. C.vv, Here may all men se, that both the aungell and Christ are on my syde, & agree with me in facte.
1604 R. Parsons Relation Triall before King of France 23 This disputation shall not be like to the others of former tymes, wherin were examined matters of doctrine, & the truth therof... But heere all questions in this disputation, shall be only questions of fact, whether places be truly alleaged, or no.
1670 H. Stubbe Censvre 34 Tis strange for any man to say, that there is no danger in communicating with one pretending to such a power, (though not yet abusing it) there being so evident instances of fact to the contrary.
1745 Let. in Rep. Conduct Sir J. Cope (1749) 115 Before this News, whatever Foundation there was for it, it is Fact that something uncommon was expected.
1795 W. Paley View Evidences Christianity (ed. 3) II. ii. iv. 107 The evangelists wrote from fact,..not from imagination.
1832 G. C. Lewis Remarks Use & Abuse Polit. Terms iii. 35 To deny the power of the legislature to dispose of it [sc. property] at pleasure, is to confound expediency and justice with fact.
1836 J. Gilbert Christian Atonem. iv. 166 This case of deliverance..from the pangs of guilt..is fact.
1875 B. Jowett in tr. Plato Dialogues (ed. 2) I. 241 Imagination is often at war with reason and fact.
1937 Boys' Life Feb. 6/3 Be calm, speak the questioner fair, use as much fact in your replies as you can.
2012 R. Schwartz Rethinking Pragmatism vii. 126 Subjectivism would rule, and there would be no distinction between fact and fiction.
A thing that has really occurred or is actually the case; a thing certainly known to be a real occurrence or to represent the truth. Hence: a particular truth known by actual observation or authentic testimony, as opposed to an inference, a conjecture, or a fiction; a datum of experience, as distinguished from the conclusions that may be based on it.
Where the truth of a matter is disputed or in doubt, this sense overlaps with sense A. 9.
brute fact, collateral fact, French fact, killer fact, real facts, social fact, etc.: see the first element. See also to face (the) facts at face v. Phrases 1i.
?1560 T. Norton Orations of Arsanes sig. *.iiijv, True declaration of the factes to lay a grounde for the iugement of the wise reader, least by misreporting of the mater, the vnder standing of the considerer should be seduced in pronouncing vpon the successe.
1663 H. Herbert tr. J. de Silhon Minister of State ii. ii. vii. 114 The knowledge of facts, and of the true state of things, is the Basis of Reasonings.
1696 Tryal & Condemnation Sir W. Parkyns 30 Though we have not found your Men, we have found your Arms. Your going into Leicester-Shire, and bringing that word back, that is a Fact.
1745 in Colonial Rec. Pennsylvania (1851) V. 13 These Facts plainly shew that the French [etc.].
1749 T. Smollett tr. A. R. Le Sage Gil Blas IV. x. i, Facts are stubborn things.
1774 O. Goldsmith Hist. Earth VI. 154 The reader, instead of observations or facts, is presented with a long list of names.
1809 S. T. Coleridge Friend 14 Sept. 73 It is an undoubted Fact of human nature, that the sense of impossibility quenches all will.
1836 C. Thirlwall Hist. Greece II. xv. 283 One fact destroys this fiction.
1883 Forest & Stream 8 Feb. 35/2 Many a man would gladly hear a few reliable facts about a rifle which is so exclusively used by the globe-trotting English sportsmen in all parts of the world.
1920 Menorah Jrnl. 6 210 The facts..are presented accumulatively and made to tell their own story.
1977 J. March Adv. Org. Chem. (ed. 2) vi. 199 The rate law of a reaction is an experimentally determined fact. From this fact we attempt to learn the molecularity.
2011 N.Y. Rev. Bks. 26 May 30/2 The most remarkable fact about the deal was that BBS was granted final cut—it would be allowed to make all six films without any interference from the studio.
b. With "the" and following clause or preposition.
(a) The actual occurrence of an event; the real existence of a situation or state of affairs.
1578 J. Phillips Commemoration Countis of Lennox sig. D.iv,
The heauens of my cryes iust record still beares, The facte of this slaughter blowne in myne eares.
1688 Acct. Reasons of Invitation of Prince of Orange into Eng. 13 They are therefore required to prove the Fact of a Prince's Birth.
1722 D. Defoe Jrnl. Plague Year 72 Persons alive..who can justify the Fact of this.
1846 J. S. Mill Syst. Logic (ed. 2) i. iii. §11 The fact of resemblance between relations is sometimes called analogy.
1851 W. B. Carpenter Man. Physiol. (ed. 2) 244 The physiological fact of the peculiar connection between the mind and the brain.
1904 Times 23 June 9/5 The fact of small mobile forces having made feints.
1986 Amer. Scholar 65 572/1 The fact of their nationality colors the way men and women think, particularly about politics and society.
2007 A. Theroux Laura Warholic xlviii. 799 There was an attitude on Laura's very mouth, an unsuppressed crack of unmercy, readable in the way that a scar recapitulates the fact of an accident.
The circumstance that something is the case.
1617 P. Baynes Diocesans Tryall (1621) 64
He did not deny the fact that bishops were superiour in their actuall admistration.
1789 Ann. Reg. 1787 Hist. Europe 113/1 Those, who were strangers to the fact, that there had been a regular government.
1803 G. Moore Diary 15 Jan. in Mem. Life Sir J. Mackintosh (1835) I. iv. 175, I would not agree to the fact that ennui prevailed more in England than in France.
1834 Edinb. Rev. Oct. 73 The only difference between Crabbe and himself is the fact, that the one was raised from the ranks, while the other is still remaining in them.
1874 T. De W. Talmage Around Tea-table xvi. 113 He may have suspicion that a rat-terrier is in one of the pews, from the fact that he saw two or three children laughing.
1901 Empire Rev. 1 380, I..rejoiced in the fact that to get there I would have to travel to New York.
1957 D. J. Enright Apothecary's Shop 209 The fact—not a new one—that Eliot doesn't pull his punches.
2013 Daily Tel. 28 Mar. 16/3 I'm not proud of the fact I had to go to my mother and father and ask them if they could help me out.
USAGE c. Uses emphasizing the truth of an assertion, esp. in fixed phrases.
The (honest) truth. Freq. in
"the fact is" with that-clause, esp. asserting something surprising, unwelcome, or controversial, or making an admission; also colloq. (orig. U.S.) without the.See also "the fact of the matter"
at Phrases 6.
1680 R. Mansell Exact & True Narr. Late Popish Intrigue 5 This is the fact, so it was, and so they projected the matter.
1698 Proc. against John Fenwick 99 A Gentleman grounded his Argument; upon what? My Lord Chief Justice Hales's Opinion; but the fact is, that my Lord Chief Justice Hale States the Difference in Cases of Treason, and in Cases of Felony.
1781 Proc. Old Bailey 11 July 296/2 The fact is, that some of the papers only were taken from his person.
1789 Ann. Reg. 1787 Hist. Europe 113/1 The fact was, there neither had existed one nor the other.
1836 R. Owen Bk. New Moral World xii. 79 The simple fact is that the institutions of society have been formed..to oppose one part of human nature to another.
1860 Thackeray in Cornhill Mag. Aug. 254 There is old Dr. Squaretoso (he certainly was very rude to me, and that's the fact).
1861 M. V. Victor Maum Guinea xi. 206 Fact is, Judy was so pure and purty, no decent-minded man could help being good to her.
1903 ‘A. McNeill’ Egregious Eng. (ed. 3) 181 The fact is that the English mind in the lump is flat, coarse, and maggoty.
1938 G. W. Pierson Tocqueville & Beaumont in Amer. lviii. 772 Whatever his shortcomings or deficiencies, the simple fact was this: Alexis de Tocqueville had taken one of the great enthusiasms of the century, and given it a magistral analysis.
1952 J. Thompson Killer inside Me xvi. 105 Fact is, it didn't mean much to me a couple nights later when you came up to that old farm house where I was shacked up, and then cut cross-prairie to that little white house.
2010 S. Fry Fry Chrons. 105 It is a preposterous weakness and I could easily pretend that I am immune to it, but the fact is that I am not, so I may as well fess up.
A true statement. Freq. in (and) that's a fact.Cf. is that a fact? at Phrases 8.
1779 F. Burney Let. 11 Jan. in Early Jrnls. & Lett. (1994) III. 221, I know of nobody else that calls me so. This is a fact, Susy.
1834 Boston (Mass.) Post 5 Aug. 7/2 To this statement of facts he replied—‘I was groggy, I know; but what I did, I don't know, that's a fact.’
1843 Dickens Martin Chuzzlewit (1844) xxi. 259 ‘It may not be so easy to do it.’ ‘And that's a fact,’ said a voice..close in his ear.
1851 H. Mayhew London Labour I. 417/1 Of the maimed beggars, some are really deserving objects, as without begging they must starve to death; that's a fact, sir.
1923 R. Macaulay Told by Idiot ii. xxi. 140 Bicycle bolts are a back number, and that's a fact.
1960 D. Lessing In Pursuit of Eng. vi. 215 There is a lot of money to be made out of the libel law. That's a fact.
2000 TVQuick 13 May 43/1 The arrogant cad! He'd be hard-pressed to find anyone else who'd put up with him, and that's a fact.
A person, an institution, etc., undoubtedly in existence; a person or thing experienced or seen.
1844 B. Disraeli Coningsby II. iv. iv. 35 They are an aristocracy; not one much to my taste; but still a great fact.
1858 N. Hawthorne Jrnl. 9 Jan. in French & Ital. Notebks. (1980) 17 The first Napoleon..one of the eternal facts of the past.
1877 S. J. Owen in Marquess Wellesley Select. Despatches Introd. p. xxi, The British Empire in India was already a great fact.
1913 N. Amer. Rev. Apr. 441 Christ, like Bergson, presents Himself to my intuition: He is a fact to be reckoned with.
1995 P. Redmond Hollyoaks (Mersey TV transmission script) Episode 5. 43 (stage direct.) He then steps back to let Maddie enter..she is a fact that does not go unnoticed by Terry's ‘appreciative’ eyes.
A piece of information allegedly or conceivably true; something presented as a fact (in sense A. 8a) but which is disputed or unproven; (more strongly) an unproved assertion, an allegation.
1566 W. Painter Palace of Pleasure I. lii. f. 304, I humblie beseche you to tell me the truth of this facte.
1632 J. Hayward tr. G. F. Biondi Eromena 21 They resolved that the Admirall should goe disguised..to assure himselfe of the fact [It. fatto].
1699 tr. C. de Saint-Evremond Arguments M. Herard 113 The Fact is false, there has been no dissipation of the Cardinal's Goods by Monsieur Mazarin.
a1729 S. Clarke Serm. (1730) V. i. 8 It would have been absurd to allege, in preaching to Unbelievers, a Fact which itself presupposed the Truth of Christ's Mission.
1797 Morning Chron. 27 Aug. 2/4 If another soldier should call you a jail-bird, and the truth of the fact be notorious.
1824 Westm. Rev. 2 209 This is..a false fact, supported by a supposed motive.
1872 W. H. Lamon Life Abraham Lincoln xi. 236 Douglas denied the fact; and Lincoln attempted to prove his statement by reading a certain passage from Holland's ‘Life of Van Buren’.
1941 A. M. Lindbergh Diary 13 Oct. in War within & Without (1980) 233 It bases its accusations on false statements and inaccurate facts.
1968 Hartford (Connecticut) Courant 29 Aug. 16/4 One cannot help but question the credibility of the writer's facts.
2002 Vanity Fair June 160/3 Waksal hotly disputed some of the facts in that story.
Guilt, especially actual guilt as opposed to suspicion.
1583 G. Babington Very Fruitfull Expos. Commaundem. ix. 471 Narcissus after long absence returning home againe was..both cleared of his fact, and restored to his bishopricke againe.
1618 R. Brathwait Remains after Death in Good Wife sig. I2v, Vpon certaine Bones found of late buried in the ground, supposed to be some murder committed, by the Hoast, in whose yard these Bones were found; but as yet only suspition is grounded, no apparencie of Fact discouered.
1632 P. Massinger Emperour of East v. ii. sig. L2, Great Iulius would not Rest satisfi'd that his wife was free from fact, But only for suspition of a crime Su'd a diuorce.
Emphasizing the truth of a preceding or following statement.
1770 S. Foote Lame Lover iii. 67 Oh! fact! there is not the least doubt of the matter.
1819 Byron Don Juan: Canto I 115 (note) They only add them all in an appendix. Fact. There is, or was, such an edition, with all the obnoxious epigrams of Martial placed by themselves at the end.
1848 J. R. Lowell Biglow Papers 1st Ser. i. 4 Fact! it takes a sight o' cotton To stuff out a soger's chest.
1899 R. Whiteing No. 5 John St. xxi. 213 ‘Garn!’ ‘Fack. It was like this.’
1907 P. G. Wodehouse White Feather viii. 88 We are, really. Fact.
1964 J. Drummond Welcome, Proud Lady xvii. 81 ‘You astonish me.’ ‘Fact.’
2004 Independent (Compact ed.) 19 Apr. 3 (headline) Another good day at The Office for Gervais as he wins third Bafta. Fact!
C. "FACT" AS adv.
U.S. regional. In fact; as a matter of fact. Now rare.
1831 Eastport (Maine) Sentinel 9 Nov.
But fact, after digging, and sawing..my patience got most wore out.
1854 M. Cummins Lamplighter 197, I thought he 'd improved of late years; he had a serious lesson enough in that sad affair of poor Philip Amory's; but, fact, I believe he 's been trying the old game again.
1899 C. W. Chesnutt Conjure Woman 23 Fac' he got so biggity.
1980 Atlantic Monthly Mar. 46, I don't think we talked about it for weeks. Fact, I don't ever remember talking about it.
"before the fact": before an action is performed or an event occurs; Law before the commission of a crime or offence.See also accessory before the fact n. at accessory n. and adj. Phrases 1, accessary before the fact n. at accessary n. and adj. Phrases 1.
1551 T. Wilson Rule of Reason sig. Mij, To marke thinges that go before the facte, as whether he hated the man or no.
1565 T. Harding Confut. Apol. Church of Eng. vi. xii. f. 308v, Commaunding is a thing that goeth before the facte, auctorizing is the makinge of a thing good by present agreeing to it whiles it is done.
1670 T. Blount Resol. Judges Statutes Bankrupts 86 He who is consenting to the making of false Money, commits High-Treason, for he is Particeps Criminis before the Fact.
1757 E. Burke Philos. Enq. Sublime & Beautiful i. §15. 27 If a man kills me with a sword; it is a necessary condition to this that we should have been both of us alive before the fact; and yet it would be absurd to say, that our being both living creatures was the cause of his crime and of my death.
1835 Polit. Mirror v. 51 The letter containing its [sc. the Government's] views, though dated months before the fact, did not reach him for months afterwards.
1932 N.Y. Times 3 Aug. 36/3 De Cicilio was held as an accomplice before the fact.
1970 J. E. Illick Amer. & Eng., 1558–1776 191 His [sc. John Locke's] ‘Second Treatise of Government’ is often viewed as an apology for the Glorious Revolution, though it was written before the fact.
2006 PC World Apr. 79/4 It..shows you a list of the files that will be deleted, before the fact.
"after the fact": after an action is performed or an event occurs; with hindsight; Law after the commission of a crime or offence.See also accessory after the fact n. at accessory n. and adj. Phrases 2, accessary after the fact n. at accessary n. and adj. Phrases 2.
1565 T. Stapleton tr. F. Staphylus Apol. f. 138, Demosthenes the lerned and eloquent oratour saith, wise men deliberat before the facte and fooles after the facte.
1632 T. Edgar Lawes Resol. of Womens Rights v. xxx. 393 Britton tieth the commencement of this Appeale to fortie dayes after the fact.
1754 E. Burt Lett. Gentleman North Scotl. xxiii. 212 They take the surest Method to prophetise, which is to divulge the Oracle after the Fact.
1869 E. A. Freeman Hist. Norman Conquest III. xii. 92 Any breach of ecclesiastical discipline might safely be dared, in the hope that an absolution after the fact might be won from some successor less austere than the saintly Leo.
1967 Brain 90 140 The speech hemisphere [of the brain] would routinely confabulate after the fact, and state that a particular word had been seen to fit the object to which the left hand already had pointed.
2004 Times Lit. Suppl. 14 May 13/1 The random elements in any life.., the ways in which any meaning, any consistency, we ascribe to our choices arrives only after the fact.
2007 S. Dunne Reaper (2009) xvi. 246 Arresting a killer, after the fact, can and does prevent further crimes.
P2. "in fact": in reality, actually, as a matter of fact. Now often used parenthetically as an additional explanation or to correct a falsehood or misunderstanding (cf. in point of fact at Phrases 3). [Compare Anglo-Norman and Old French, Middle French, French en fait (1268). Compare also earlier indeed adv.]
1592 R. Cosin Conspiracie for Pretended Reformation 80 To a question..whether her Maiestie were lawfull Queene of England?..he subtilly answered..yet she was (in fact) Queene as yet if she had not forfeited it.
1696 Country Gentleman's Notion concerning Covernments 5 The meeting of every Particular Person, in order to consult for the Common Good, is in fact impossible.
1707 J. Addison Present State War 36 If this were true in Fact, I don't see any tolerable colour for such a conclusion.
1732 G. Berkeley Alciphron I. ii. xxiv. 141 In whatever light you may consider it, this is in fact a solid Benefit.
1774 O. Goldsmith Hist. Earth I. 38 In fact, a thousand questions might be asked..which he would not find it easy to answer.
1832 W. R. Prince Pomological Man. (ed. 2) i. 16 This fruit is known about Boston by the name of Skinless pear, which in fact is a very different fruit.
1871 S. Smiles Character ii. 49 Gray was, in fact, a feminine man.
1907 Pop. Mech. Sept. 965 Early railroads used it [sc. catalpa] for telegraph poles and it gave exceptional satisfaction, so much so, in fact, that the natural supply was soon exhausted.
1940 M. Mitchell Let. 8 Aug. in Gone with Wind Lett. (1986) 312 They replied with a letter which can best be described as ‘saucy’. In fact, they practically told me to go to hell.
2012 Daily Tel. 24 Feb. 30/3 When I inquired whether eco-leather might, in fact, mean plastic, the sales assistants..agreed that it probably would.
P3. "in point of fact": with regard to factual accuracy; in reality, actually. Now often used parenthetically as an additional explanation or to correct a falsehood or misunderstanding (cf. in fact at Phrases 2).
1628 R. Sanderson Two Serm. Paules-Crosse 88 Ignorance in point of fact, so conditioned as hath been shewed, doth so excuse à toto; that an Action proceeding thence..is yet not formally a sinne.
1711 Swift Jrnl. to Stella 10 Nov. (1948) II. 408 Three or four great people are to see there are no mistakes in point of fact.
1817 J. Mill Hist. Brit. India II. v. ix. 712 In point of fact, the influence exerted..has never been great.
1848 E. F. Smith Comm. Statute &Constit. Law ix. 430 Before proceeding to the consideration of the next class of cases, it is proper to correct an error in point of fact, in relation to one case.
1888 A. W. Streane Jeremiah 102 In point of fact Jeremiah was absent from Jerusalem.
1914 L. Burbank in J. Whitson et al. L. Burbank II. ix. 283 The name [sc. Pomato]..led to the unauthorized assumption that the fruit was really a cross between the tomato and the potato. In point of fact, I have never been able to cross these two plants.
1943 Phylon 4 33, I have called such traditions..historic traditions, not at all because they are historically correct in point of fact, but because [etc.].
1999 J. Crace Being Dead (2000) x. 84 The marine cricket is a beetle, actually... It's not a cricket at all, in point of fact.
"facts and figures" n. factual details, precise pieces of information.
1727 A. Boyer Polit. State Great Brit. Aug. 130 Facts and Figures are the most stubborn Evidences; they neither yield to the most persuasive Eloquence, nor bend to the most imperious Authority.
1769 Crit. Rev. Mar. 205 Fresh reasons for observing a political scepticism in all finance-matters that are to be determined by facts and figures.
1845 Dickens Chimes i. 48 Facts and figures!... Put 'em down!
1903 H. James Ambassadors iv. ix. 121 Strether..put him in full possession of facts and figures.
1957 J. Braine Room at Top xii. 122 The hard materialists, the men of facts and figures.
2005 Word Feb. 47/1 Many of the facts and figures from your article were abducted from my book without attribution.
"for a fact": as a certainty; for certain; beyond doubt. Chiefly in to know for a fact. Freq. with emphatic force.
1778 Scots Mag. Nov. 615/2 Sir, I myself know it for a fact, that the speaking trumpet of the Albion was sent out in so wretched a condition, that..half the crew have been hoarse ever since.
1843 Fraser's Mag. 28 702, I know for a fact that a courier was waiting.
1902 N.Y. Tribune 27 July ii. 6/2 ‘Beef and what?’ asked a downtown business man, as he read his paper going home on the L. ‘Well, you don't know beans, for a fact,’ his companion laughed.
1943 B. C. Williams Forever Young iv. 67 He had not kept his good resolutions and, for a fact, gallivanting and carousing had done nothing to make him feel over-well.
1988 G. Patterson Burning your Own (1993) 144 I'm telling you for a fact, your broth would put anyone to shame. I swear, I could eat it till the cows come home.
2005 N. Hornby Long Way Down 61, I know for a fact she'd marry you if you asked her.
"the fact of the matter": the truth with regard to the subject under discussion.
1808 Farmer's Mag. Dec. 433 The fact of the matter is, that the mosses are the result of the fall of these woods.
1852 C. M. Yonge Two Guardians vi. 101 This is the fact of the matter, as Mrs. Cornthwayte would say.
1902 H. Lawson Children of Bush 16, I s'pose the fact of the matter was that she didn't cotton on to me.
1967 U.S. Rep. (U.S. Supreme Court) 387 27 The fact of the matter is that, however euphemistic the title, a ‘receiving home’..for juveniles is an institution for confinement.
2002 N.Y. Times 31 Mar. 32/5 The fact of the matter is the Senate should reflect the people of the State of New York.
"fact of life" n. a thing that cannot be changed and so needs to be accepted, however unpleasant or unpalatable that may be; a (stark) reality of existence.
a1806 J. Barry in R. N. Wornum Lect. on Painting (1848) 107 Our subsequent experience of the real facts of life presents us with a constitution of things exceedingly different and much worse.
1854 H. D. Thoreau Walden 98, I went to the woods because I wished..to front only the essential facts of life.
1893 ‘S. Grand’ Heavenly Twins i. i. 6 He snubbed Evadne promptly..when she mentioned a fact of life... ‘Only confusion comes of women thinking for themselves on social subjects,’ he said.
1908 K. Grahame Wind in Willows ix. 196 To-day, the unseen was everything, the unknown the only real fact of life.
1967 Boston Sunday Globe 23 Apr. 20/3 The conservationists' warning that we will bury ourselves in our own trash will become a fact of life.
2009 Guardian 21 Sept. (Media section) 3/5 Downsizing, and strategic planning for competition, is a fact of life in most companies.
"the facts of life": the details of human sexual functions and practices, especially as given to children.
1891 G. Meredith One of our Conquerors I. xiv. 262 Her anxiety was vigilant to guard her girl from an infusion of any of the dread facts of life not coming through the mother's lips.
1913 Maclean's Mag. June 123/1 The need of teaching boys and girls the essential facts of life, so as to equip them for the momentous time when they choose life partners.
1930 W. S. Maugham Breadwinner i. 14, I shall never forget when I was leaving my prep school, and Dorothy told Alfred he must tell me what she called ‘the facts of life’.
1969 W. H. Auden City without Walls 71 Mother, tongue-tied with shyness, Struggling to tell him The Facts of Life he dared not Tell her he knew already.
2010 New Yorker 18 Oct. 90/3 The facts of life used to be called the secrets of generation because how life began was a mystery, the great mystery of life.
"Is that a fact?"
‘is that so?’; used esp. as a rejoinder (expecting no answer) to a statement.
1899 E. W. Hornung Amateur Cracksman 202 ‘My name is Raffles, and we met at Milchester last year.’ ‘Is that a fact?’ cried the Scotchman.
1914 P. G. Wodehouse Man Upstairs 133 A man I met to-day told me you were engaged. Is that a fact?
1962 N. Marsh Hand in Glove iv. 110 ‘It doesn't explain,’ Alleyn said, ‘why the wick in the lantern's been turned hard off, does it?’ ‘Is that a fact!’ Raikes remarked, primly.
2011 W. C. Hammond Power & Glory ix. 129 ‘Is that a fact?’ Truxtun said, his voice laced with sarcasm.
"just the facts"
ma'am and variants: used with reference to the eliciting or presentation of an unembellished or straightforward account of factual information. Also attrib.: strictly factual; unembellished, dry.With allusion to the investigative technique of police detective Sergeant Joe Friday in the U.S. radio and television series Dragnet (first broadcast in 1949), although the exact phrase ‘Just the facts ma'am’ did not occur in either the television or radio series.
Quot. 19531 comes from an audio sketch parodying Dragnet.
1953 S. Freberg & D. Butler Little Blue Riding Hood (comedy sketch) 4
All the better to get the facts, I just wanna get the facts, ma'am.
1953 Baltimore Sun 16 Oct. 14/5 (advt.)
All you want is the facts, ma'am. And we'll give you the true facts in a friendly manner. Be sure to see the elegant new '54 Dodge and get the facts on the best deal.
1959 Life 16 Mar. 32/1 There are the Big Pattern men on the one hand, and the empirical, just-the-facts-ma'am historians on the other.
1976 M. Apple Oranging of Amer. 131 You're the Joe Friday type, only the facts, ma'am, stiff-lipped anal personality.
1992 M. Cladis Communitarian Def. of Liberalism 214, I doubt that most of us would want public education pared down to the ‘Dragnet’ style: ‘just the facts, ma'am’.
2005 Vanity Fair July 130/1 Felt mastered the art of succinct, just-the-facts-ma'am memo writing.
1957 D. MacDonald Triumph of Fact iii, in Anchor Rev. No. 2. 122 Fact-fetishism is to some extent a class phenomenon.
1964 K. Winetrout in I. L. Horowitz New Sociol. 149 We wind up with fact-fetishism, with a ‘social science of the narrow focus, the trivial detail, the abstracted almighty unimportant fact’.
2010 P. Garrett Victorian Empiricism 201 An all too familiar definition of empiricism as fact-fetishism.
1960 Spectator 7 Oct. 527 The book meets the demands of the most hardbitten fact-fetishist.
1962 D. MacDonald Triumph of Fact in Against Amer. Grain iv. 425 Theirs is the innocent eye of the artist rather than the sophisticated (using the word in its older sense of corrupted) eye of the fact-fetishist.
1969 J. Mander Static Society ix. 319 Fact-fetishists as they are, both authors belong to the..spirit of the Enlightenment.
2004 N.Y. Observer (Nexis) 4 Oct. 6 In his fascinating, almost hour-by-hour narrative of the run-up to the inaugural, Mr. Clarke unearths a gold mine for Kennedy fact-fetishists.
b. Objective and instrumental. See also fact-finding n., fact-finding adj.
1904 Salt Lake Tribune 5 Nov. 1/7 Their previous hopes never had such a fact-based foundation as those they at present entertain.
1950 Anniston (Alabama) Star 29 Jan. 24/2 ‘Port of New York’ is a fact-based story of the men who guard the entrance to America.
2004 C. Manby Girl meets Ape xli. 219 The general public is so au fait with cinematic convention these days that even fact-based programmes have to have some kind of story arc.
1857 Crayon 4 210/2 So we find in the English woman countless aspirations for a free, less fact-bound life.
1959 Encounter Sept. 14/2 Their determination to stay precise and fact-bound at all costs.
2009 Cato Supreme Court Rev. 2008–9 153 Although the opinions often appeared fact-bound, they occasionally provided rules for proof determinations under the Fourth Amendment.
1834 A. Walker Nerv. Syst. 9 It grieves the writer to think how often he has descended to the useless drudgery of mere fact-collecting.
1937 V. Woolf Years 380 I'm good, she thought, at fact-collecting.
2007 Central European Hist. 40 506 Former leading historians of the GDR..rescued themselves by turning to positivist fact-collecting and source-fetishism.
1851 Nonconformist 30 Apr. 352/3 Such confirmation we think many may get from this appropriate, fact-crammed, and well-written little book.
1933 D. Thomas Let. Sept. in Sel. Lett. (1966) 25 You've got more in your little finger than they have in the whole of their fact-crammed brains.
2004 Geogr. Rev. 94 260 More selective than the thousand fact-crammed pages might suggest, the major emphasis is on terrestrial mammals.
1867 Ohio Educ. Monthly Dec. 458 His daily instruction is one round of fact-cramming.
1922 A. C. Babenroth Eng. Childhood vi. 259 Her devotional aims do not succeed in crowding out the universal passion for fact cramming, which came with the new enthusiasm for a novel world of scientific facts.
1998 Times 23 June 25/6 He was appalled to see each new medical student's burning enthusiasm for scientific inquiry being quenched by the absurd fact-cramming of the conventional course.
1897 Polit. Sci. Q. 12 705 The fact-filled outline, which makes up the body of the book, may well be termed ‘a handbook to the study of city government’.
1954 Bks. Abroad 28 334/2 The author of this small but fact-filled book on Ethiopia is a professor at Cairo University.
2006 D. J. Weiss Anal. Variance & Functional Measurem. vi. 68 A third instructor gave rich, fact-filled lectures and easy exams, while the fourth instructor gave rich, fact-filled lectures and hard exams.
fact-gathering adj. and n.
1841 Amer. Phrenol. Jrnl. June 401 This professor who has taken upon himself the office of public rebuker of the cautious, fact-gathering, nature-studying phrenologist.
1847 Amer. Phrenol. Jrnl. 9 353 He has an uncommon desire to know what is going on around him..; is great at fact gathering; [etc.].
1905 A. Johnstone Recoll. R. L. Stevenson in Pacific vii. 140 To a man like Stevenson, whose sympathies..preceded his political fact-gathering, the royalist cause..seemed to be recipient of aggressions..from the annexationists.
1958 T. Landau Encycl. Librarianship 118/1 His fact-gathering and his several publications about libraries.
2004 Time Out N.Y. 16 Sept. 80/2 The peons who perform the fact-gathering, news-writing or coffee-fetching duties that keep CNN's New York headquarters humming.
1911 Amer. Advance 9 Dec. 11/3 A new edition of the fact-packed volume, ‘Intoxicating Drinks and Drugs in all Lands and Times’, has just been issued.
1958 Life 19 May 10/2 We did not run it up the flag pole but we did read it..and we salute, from the bottom of our well-worn clichés, your fact-packed feature about our craft.
2010 New Yorker 25 Jan. 68/2 Self-involvement, as Ben Yagoda's fact-packed if not terribly searching book..reminds you, is just one of the charges that have been levelled against memoirs and their authors over the centuries.
fact file n. a repository of information; spec. a commercially produced pack containing information about a particular subject, product, etc.
1947 N.Y. Times 25 May (Bk. Rev.) 33 (advt.) Based on a fact-file of millions of dollars' worth of results.
1956 Music Educators Jrnl. 42 (front matter) (advt.) Send today for the new Hamilton fact file.
2000 Plumbing Mag. May 40/1 (advt.) The second fact-file shows a wider range of Albion products, coupled to Aga Rayburn and solid fuel appliances.
fact-proof adj. impervious to facts, willing to disregard facts.
1828 Foreign Q. Rev. Feb. 28 Nothing softer than the Reviewer's fact-proof cranium could resist it.
1909 G. B. Shaw John Bull's Other Island p. ix, He is never quite the hysterical, nonsense-crammed, fact-proof, truth-terrified, unballasted sport of all the bogy panics..that now calls itself ‘God's Englishman’.
2010 Sydney Morning Herald (Nexis) 2 Nov. 11 So anger is a standard tool, used by both sides of politics. Is there anything new about it? One striking feature of rage 2010 seems to be that it is increasingly fact-proof.
fact sheet n. a single-page or other brief document setting out facts relevant to a particular issue.
1919 Social Hygiene 5 135 The fact sheet..is the one used by the fixed post representative to secure the facts relevant to a case.
1930 Pop. Mech. Feb. 148/1 Fact-Sheets of Industry will give you a look ahead that will start you thinking.
1969 Guardian 23 Oct. 3/2 The distribution in Congress last night of a ‘fact sheet’ outlining the..steps taken by the Nixon Administration.
2007 Brit. Archaeol. Sept. 57/1 The CBA has a free fact sheet covering Everything you always wanted to know about archaeological excavations but were afraid to ask.