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The word fact can refer to verified information about past or present circumstances or events which are presented as objective reality. In science, it means a provable concept.[1][2]


Etymology and usage

The word fact derives from the Latin Factum, and was first used in English with the same meaning: "a thing done or performed", a use that is now obsolete.[3] The common usage of, "something that has really occurred or is the case", dates from the middle of the sixteenth century.[4]

Fact is sometimes used synonymously with truth or reality, as distinguishable from conclusions or opinions. This use is found in such phrases Matter of fact,[5] and "... not history, nor fact, but imagination."

Fact also indicates a matter under discussion deemed to be true or correct, such as to emphasize a point or prove a disputed issue; (e.g., "... the fact of the matter is ...").[6][7]

Alternatively, fact may also indicate an allegation or stipulation of something that may or may not be a "true fact",[8] (e.g., "the author's facts are not trustworthy"). This alternate usage, although contested by some, has a long history in standard English.[9]

Fact may also indicate findings derived through a process of evaluation, including review of testimony, direct observation, or otherwise; as distinguishable from matters of inference or speculation.[10] This use is reflected in the terms "fact-find" and "fact-finder" (e.g., "set up a fact-finding commission").[11]

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