de facto

[ dee fak-toh, dey ]
/ di ˈfæk toʊ, deɪ /

adverb, adjective

in fact; in reality: Although his title was prime minister, he was de facto president of the country. Although the school was said to be open to all qualified students, it still practiced de facto segregation.
actually existing, especially when without lawful authority (distinguished from de jure).


Australian. a person who lives in an intimate relationship with but is not married to a person of the opposite sex; lover.

Origin of de facto

First recorded in 1595–1605, de facto is from the Latin word dē factō literally, from the fact


de facto de jure Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Examples from the Web for de facto

British Dictionary definitions for de facto

de facto
/ (deɪ ˈfæktəʊ) /


in fact


existing in fact, whether legally recognized or nota de facto regime Compare de jure

noun plural -tos

Australian and NZ a de facto husband or wife

Word Origin for de facto

C17: Latin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Cultural definitions for de facto

de facto
[ (di fak-toh, day fak-toh) ]

Something generally accepted or agreed to without any formal decision in its favor: “They never elected him; he became their leader de facto.” From Latin, meaning “in fact.” (Compare de jure.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.