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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 .
a person who acts in an official capacity for a government or private , 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 ).
to represent (a person or thing) as an agent; act as an agent for:
to agent a manuscript; Who agented that deal?
Contemporary Examples

Once she overcame her shock, Esfandiari realized she was arrested because she was perceived as an agent provocateur.
My Iranian Prison Sandra McElwaine September 24, 2009

“Peter called agents for me, and people came to see me in that play, and I ended up getting an agent from it,” she says.
‘Orange Is the New Black’ Star Taylor Schilling on Her Path to Prison Marlow Stern July 29, 2013

“Max, [my] agent, make me rich,” she says, the crowd roaring.
Tennis Star Li Na Says Goodbye to the Court…and Puts the Sport’s Rise in Asia in Question Nicholas McCarvel September 18, 2014

Hoping to tempt her back into writing, her agent suggested that she and her husband collaborate on a book in his genre.
Isabel Allende’s Controversial New Thriller Jane Ciabattari February 22, 2014

The agent had a two-way radio connecting him with other agents downtown.
Would It Have Saved JFK? Jim Lehrer on the Mystery of the Bubble Top Eleanor Clift November 3, 2013

Historical Examples

His business was to act as agent for American purchasers and European dealers.
Uncle Sam Detective William Atherton Du Puy

He and his agent, the Hon. Amos Kendall, determined to rely on private enterprise.
Heroes of the Telegraph J. Munro

The agent seemed disappointed, but he gave Nat the directions.
The Boy Pilot of the Lakes Frank V. Webster

Otherwise the agent will soon put an end to the Association.
Punchinello, Vol. 1, No. 12, June 18, 1870 Various

On reaching the Casino he found that he would have no difficulty in seeing the agent.
The Truth About Tristrem Varick Edgar Saltus

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

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.).

agent a·gent (ā’jənt)
A force or substance, such as a chemical, that causes a change.
A substance that can bring about a chemical reaction or a biological effect. Compare reagent.

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.


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