Factotum – Meaning & Examples in a Sentence

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Danielle McLeod

Danielle McLeod is a highly qualified secondary English Language Arts Instructor who brings a diverse educational background to her classroom. With degrees in science, English, and literacy, she has worked to create cross-curricular materials to bridge learning gaps and help students focus on effective writing and speech techniques. Currently working as a dual credit technical writing instructor at a Career and Technical Education Center, her curriculum development surrounds student focus on effective communication for future career choices.

Latin is one of the oldest recorded classical languages that has influenced many of the languages you hear today throughout the Americas and Europe. Despite the variations of spellings and pronunciations that occurred over the centuries, some Latin words and phrases exist exactly as they were once spoken over 2000 years ago.

Factotum, a word used to describe a person with many responsibilities, has been unchanged since its inception in medieval Europe. Although not often heard in day-to-day speech, it is a word that works well to illustrate the diversity of the subject it is being used in relation to.

Let’s learn more about the word factotum, its origin, and how to use it in a sentence.

What Does Factotum Mean?

Factotum Meaning Examples in a Sentence

At first glance, anyone unfamiliar with the word factotum may assume that it deals with facts. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Factotum is a noun that denotes an employee who has many responsibilities and does all types of work. The original phrase, coined in the mid-1500s, was magister factotum, which means master of everything. Such a person is not an expert at any one type of task but is fairly competent in many types of tasks.

A factotum partakes in many diverse activities and has many different responsibilities in their job description.

For example:

  • I was fairly limited as a factotum and said so in the interview once they began describing the number of jobs I would be required to undertake.
  • Don’t pretend to be a factotum in order to impress. Your lack of work ethic will eventually be noticed, and you’ll lose the job; it’s best to be honest upfront.

Synonyms of Factotum

Here are some synonyms that you can use instead of factotum.

  • Mr./Ms. Fixit
  • General employee
  • Jack of all trades
  • Odd-job person
  • Personal assistant

Plural of Factotum

Because of its Latin origin, many people assume the plural of factotum is factori. However, this is incorrect due to its integration into the English language as an English word. It is subject to the same rule of pluralization as any other noun.

The plural form of factotum is factotums.

For example:

  • It was difficult to discern whether we needed to add any factotums during the evening shift to help prepare for the following day’s work. We first needed to see if the current staff was doing all they could or were overwhelmed with the amount of labor.

Factotum Origins

Factotum Ngram
Factotum usage trend.

Factotum is a Latin word derived from the Latin fac, meaning do something, and the word totum, meaning the whole of everything. It is of Medieval Latin and, by all accounts, was first used in the mid-16th century.

Let’s Review

Factotum is a Latin-derived word that has been adapted into the English language to be synonymous with a person who takes care of many different types of responsibilities and can handle many different types of jobs.

The plural of factotum is factotums due to its integration into the English language.

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