One definition of a vector is that of a carrier — it might be an insect like a mosquito that carries and transmits a bacterium or virus, or it might be some agent that carries genetically engineered DNA into a cell.

Considering that the Latin word vector comes from the word vehere, which means "to carry," it's not surprising that the current use of the word also "carries" the same meaning. In fact, in computers, a vector is a method used to propagate a computer virus. However, the word vector is also used in various scientific areas, including mathematics, where it indicates something possessing both size and direction; and aeronautics, where it indicates a projectile's course.

Definitions of vector
  1. noun
    a straight line segment whose length is magnitude and whose orientation in space is direction
    see moresee less
    (mathematics) a straight line extending from a point
    type of:
    straight line
    a line traced by a point traveling in a constant direction; a line of zero curvature
  2. noun
    any agent (person or animal or microorganism) that carries and transmits a disease
    “mosquitos are vectors of malaria and yellow fever”
    “fleas are vectors of the plague”
    “when medical scientists talk about vectors they are usually talking about insects”
    synonyms: transmitter
    see moresee less
    Typhoid Mary
    United States cook who was an immune carrier of typhoid fever and who infected dozens of people (1870-1938)
    show 4 types...
    hide 4 types...
    gene delivery vector, transducing vector
    a vector for delivering genes into cells
    carrier, immune carrier
    (medicine) a person (or animal) who has some pathogen to which he is immune but who can pass it on to others
    liposomal delivery vector
    a transducing vector that uses liposomes to carry the gene of interest
    viral delivery vector
    a transducing vector that uses a retrovirus
    type of:
    an active and efficient cause; capable of producing a certain effect
  3. noun
    (genetics) a virus or other agent that is used to deliver DNA to a cell
    see moresee less
    (genetics) a large vector that is made from a bacteriophage and used to clone genes or gene fragments
    type of:
    (virology) ultramicroscopic infectious agent that replicates itself only within cells of living hosts; many are pathogenic; a piece of nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) wrapped in a thin coat of protein
  4. noun
    a variable quantity that can be resolved into components
    see moresee less
    show 4 types...
    hide 4 types...
    cross product, vector product
    a vector that is the product of two other vectors
    resultant, vector sum
    a vector that is the sum of two or more other vectors
    radius vector
    a line connecting a point in space to the origin of a polar coordinate system
    radius vector
    a line connecting a satellite to the center of the body around which it is rotating
    type of:
    variable, variable quantity
    a quantity that can assume any of a set of values
Word Family