9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[ey-juh nt] /ˈeɪ dʒənt/
a person or business authorized to act on another's behalf:
Our agent in Hong Kong will ship the merchandise. A best-selling author needs a good agent.
a person or thing that acts or has the power to act.
a natural force or object producing or used for obtaining specific results:
Many insects are agents of fertilization.
an active cause; an efficient cause.
a person who works for or manages an agency.
a person who acts in an official capacity for a government or private agency, as a guard, detective, or spy:
an FBI agent; the secret agents of a foreign power.
a person responsible for a particular action:
Who was the agent of this deed?
Grammar. a form or construction, usually a noun or noun phrase, denoting an animate being that performs or causes the action expressed by the verb, as the police in The car was found by the police.
a representative of a business firm, especially a traveling salesperson; canvasser; solicitor.
Chemistry. a substance that causes a reaction.
Pharmacology. a drug or chemical capable of eliciting a biological response.
Pathology. any microorganism capable of causing disease.
British. a campaign manager; an election agent.
acting; exerting power (opposed to patient).
verb (used with object)
to represent (a person or thing) as an agent; act as an agent for:
to agent a manuscript; Who agented that deal?
Origin of agent
1570-80; < Latin agent- (stem of agēns (present participle) doing), equivalent to ag- (root of agere to do) + -ent- -ent
Related forms
counteragent, noun
interagent, noun
superagent, noun
underagent, noun
1. representative, deputy. 3. means. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for agent
  • Because whichever service becomes the executive agent gets a heap of money and power, to go along with the responsibility.
  • He has also made a lot of enemies being a sports agent.
  • The amount an agent gets for a new policy has fallen by up to three-quarters.
  • One such agent scientists are looking at is a fungus that attacks mites but not the bees.
  • He was that rarity, which you see a lot in fiction but rarely in real life-a sleeper agent.
  • That's why it's best to make sure your secret agent gear is top quality and working properly.
  • When the auction ends, a government agent shows up and flips a coin.
  • Today the biggest threat from smallpox comes from its possible use as a bioterrorism agent.
  • OC spray was intended to be a non-lethal but incapacitating agent.
  • Note already shredded cheese is coated with a non caking agent.
British Dictionary definitions for agent


a person who acts on behalf of another person, group, business, government, etc; representative
a person or thing that acts or has the power to act
a phenomenon, substance, or organism that exerts some force or effect: a chemical agent
the means by which something occurs or is achieved; instrument: wind is an agent of plant pollination
a person representing a business concern, esp a travelling salesman
(Brit) short for estate agent
short for secret agent
Derived Forms
agential (eɪˈdʒɛnʃəl) adjective
Word Origin
C15: from Latin agent-, noun use of the present participle of agere to do
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 agent

late 15c., "one who acts," from Latin agentem (nominative agens) "effective, powerful," present participle of agere "to set in motion, drive, lead, conduct" (see act (n.)). Meaning "any natural force or substance which produces a phenomenon" is from 1550s. Meaning "deputy, representative" is from 1590s. Sense of "spy, secret agent" is attested by 1916.


1610s, from agent (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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agent in Medicine

agent a·gent (ā'jənt)
A force or substance, such as a chemical, that causes a change.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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agent in Science
A substance that can bring about a chemical reaction or a biological effect. Compare reagent.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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agent in Technology

In the client-server model, the part of the system that performs information preparation and exchange on behalf of a client or server. Especially in the phrase "intelligent agent" it implies some kind of automatic process which can communicate with other agents to perform some collective task on behalf of one or more humans.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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