The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language – Third Edition, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston MA, Copyright 1992.

 

 

fact (f²kt) n. 1. Information presented as objectively real. 2. A real occurrence; an event: had to prove the facts of the accident. 3.a. Something having real, demonstrable existence: Genetic engineering is now a fact. b. The quality of being real or actual: a blur of fact and fancy. 4. A thing that has been done, especially a crime: an accessory before the fact. 5. Law. The aspect of a case at law comprising events determined by evidence: The jury made a finding of fact. --idiom. in (point of) fact. In reality or in truth; actually. [Latin factum, deed, from neuter past participle of facere, to do. See dhΆ- below.]

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USAGE NOTE: Fact has a long history of usage in the sense “allegation of fact,” as in “This tract was distributed to thousands of American teachers, but the facts and the reasoning are wrong” (Albert Shanker). This practice has led inevitably to the introduction of the phrases true facts and real facts, as in The true facts of the case may never be known. These usages may occasion qualms among critics who hold that facts cannot be other than true, but they often serve a useful purpose.

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