General English

Information & Library Science

  • noun something that is known or accepted to be true


  • noun something which is true and real, especially something which has been proved by evidence in court

Origin & History of “fact”

A fact is literally ‘something that is done’. It comes from Latin factum ‘deed’, a noun based on the past participle of facere ‘do’. This verb, a distant relative of English do, has contributed richly to English vocabulary, from obvious derivatives like factitious (17th c.) and factitive (19th c.) to more heavily disguised forms such as difficult, effect, fashion, feasible, feature, and fetish, not to mention the -fic suffix of words like horrific and pacific, and the related verbal suffix -fy. To begin with, English adopted the word in its original Latin sense ‘deed’, but this now survives only in legal contexts, such as ‘accessory after the fact’. there is sporadic evidence in classical Latin, however, of its use for ‘something that happens, event’, and this developed in post-classical times to produce ‘what actually is’, the word’s main modern sense in French fait and Italian fatto as well as in their English relative fact.

Feat is essentially the same word as fact, filtered through Old French.