fudge factor

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fudge factor a figure included in a calculation to account for some unquantified but significant phenomenon or to ensure a desired result. Fudge, apparently originating in the mid 18th century as an exclamation of disgust or irritation, acquired a specific verbal sense in printers' jargon of the late 18th century, meaning to ‘do work imperfectly or as best one can with the materials available’.