X factor is an expression referring to an indefinable quality, particularly when referring to individuality and personality. Since these elements of a person or thing might not be measurable or definable, the "X factor" (since "X" is commonly used as a variable) is often used to explain its appeal. Compare je ne sais quoi.
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The X Factor is a television music competition franchise created by Simon Cowell. It originated in the United Kingdom, where it was devised as a replacement for Pop Idol. It is now held in various countries. The contestants are aspiring pop singers drawn from public competitive auditions. The programmes are produced by executive producer Simon Cowell and his company SYCOtv. The "X Factor" of the title refers to the undefinable "something" that makes for star quality. The prize is usually a recording contract, in addition to the publicity that appearance in the later stages of the show itself generates, not only for the winner but also for other highly ranked contestants.