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[ak-choo-uh l] /ˈæk tʃu əl/
existing in act or fact; real:
an actual case of heroism; actual expenses.
existing now; present; current:
The ship's actual position is 22 miles due east of Miami.
Obsolete. pertaining to or involving acts or action.
Origin of actual
1275-1325; < Late Latin āctuālis, equivalent to Latin āctu- (stem of action noun āctus; see act) + -ālis -al1; replacing Middle English actuel < Middle French < Latin
Related forms
actualness, noun
nonactual, adjective
nonactualness, noun
1. genuine, authentic, veritable. See real1 .
1. unreal, fictional. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for actual
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The law has nothing to do with the actual state of the parties' minds.

    The Common Law Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
  • He waited an eternity; in actual time it was exactly ten minutes.

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • The actual decrease may be found by means of a spring balance.

    Ontario Teachers' Manuals: Nature Study Ontario Ministry of Education
  • There has not yet been much opportunity to test the airship in actual warfare.

    Flying Machines W.J. Jackman and Thos. H. Russell
  • I mention these extremes only to show the range of their actual influence.

    Major Prophets of To-Day Edwin E. Slosson
British Dictionary definitions for actual


existing in reality or as a matter of fact
real or genuine
existing at the present time; current
(usually preceded by your) (Brit, informal, often facetious) (intensifier): that music's by your actual Mozart, isn't it?
See also actuals
Usage note
The excessive use of actual and actually should be avoided. They are unnecessary in sentences such as in actual fact, he is forty-two, and he did actually go to the play but did not enjoy it
Word Origin
C14: actuel existing, from Late Latin āctuālis relating to acts, practical, from Latin āctusact
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
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Word Origin and History for actual

early 14c., "pertaining to an action," from Old French actuel "now existing, up to date" (13c.), from Late Latin actualis "active, pertaining to action," adjectival form of Latin actus (see act (n.)). The broader sense of "real, existing" (as opposed to potential, ideal, etc.) is from late 14c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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