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From Latin vector (carrier, transporter), from vehō (I carry, I transport, I bear).

The “person or entity that passes along an urban legend or other meme” sense derives from the disease sense.

The use of the term “vector” in mathematics was introduced by William Rowan Hamilton when he introduced the quaternion product.


  • Hyphenation: vec‧tor
  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈvɛktə/
  • (US) enPR: vĕk'tər, IPA(key): /ˈvɛktɚ/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛktə(ɹ)


vector (plural vectors)

  1. (mathematics) A directed quantity, one with both magnitude and direction; the signed difference between two points.
    • 1914, The New Student's Reference Work:
      As examples of vector quantities may be mentioned the distance between any two given points, a velocity, a force, an acceleration, angular velocity, intensity of magnetization flux of heat.
  2. (mathematics) An ordered tuple representing a directed quantity or the signed difference between two points.
  3. (mathematics) Any member of a (generalized) vector space.
    The vectors in   are the single-variable polynomials with rational coefficients: one is  .
  4. (aviation) A chosen course or direction for motion, as of an aircraft.
  5. (epidemiology) A carrier of a disease-causing agent.
  6. (sociology) A person or entity that passes along an urban legend or other meme.
  7. (psychology) A recurring psychosocial issue that stimulates growth and development in the personality.
  8. The way in which the eyes are drawn across the visual text. The trail that a book cover can encourage the eyes to follow from certain objects to others.(Can we add an example for this sense?)
  9. (computing, operating systems) A memory address containing the address of a code entry point, usually one which is part of a table and often one that is dereferenced and jumped to during the execution of an interrupt.
  10. (programming) A one-dimensional array.
    • 2004, Jesse Liberty, ‎Bradley L. Jones, Sams Teach Yourself C++ in 21 Days (page 694)
      To create a vector of students in a class, you will want the vector to be large enough []
  11. (computer graphics, attributive) A graphical representation using outlines; vector graphics.
    Coordinate term: raster
    a vector image
    vector graphics
  12. (molecular biology) A DNA molecule used to carry genetic information from one organism into another.

Usage notesEdit

  • (programming): The term vector is used loosely when the indices are not (either positive or non-negative) integers.



Derived termsEdit



vector (third-person singular simple present vectors, present participle vectoring, simple past and past participle vectored)

  1. To set (particularly an aircraft) on a course toward a selected point.
    • 1994, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Tendencies
      [] if love is vectored toward an object and Elinor's here flies toward Marianne, Marianne's in turn toward Willoughby.
  2. (computing) To redirect to a vector, or code entry point.



  • The New Oxford Dictionary of English




vector m (plural vectors)

  1. vector






vector m (genitive vectōris); third declension

  1. bearer, carrier
  2. passenger


Third declension.

Case Singular Plural
Nominative vector vectōrēs
Genitive vectōris vectōrum
Dative vectōrī vectōribus
Accusative vectōrem vectōrēs
Ablative vectōre vectōribus
Vocative vector vectōrēs



  1. first-person singular present passive indicative of vectō


  • vector in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • vector in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • Carl Meissner; Henry William Auden (1894) Latin Phrase-Book[1], London: Macmillan and Co.
    • passengers: vectores (Phil. 7. 9. 27)



vector m (plural vectores)

  1. Superseded spelling of vetor.