de facto

[dee fak-toh, dey]

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
Can be confusedde facto de jure Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for de facto

Contemporary Examples of de facto

  • Others are suggesting a de-facto ban, accomplished either through a huge tax, or a ban on ammunition.

    The Daily Beast logo
    You Can't Save Gun Control With Word Games

    Megan McArdle

    December 19, 2012

  • The American F-15E went down in eastern Libya after midnight Tuesday about 25 miles east of Benghazi, the de-facto rebel capital.

    The Daily Beast logo
    U.S. Plane Crash in Libya: Exclusive New Details

    Babak Dehghanpisheh

    March 22, 2011

  • But we're going to hand them over to the National Council [the de-facto government in Benghazi] and they're going to follow up.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Libya's Hysteria Over African Mercenaries

    Babak Dehghanpisheh

    March 6, 2011

  • It was probably one of the only times in the history of a popular uprising that the people cheered on a de-facto military coup.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Mubarak Steps Down

    Babak Dehghanpisheh

    February 11, 2011

  • McCain is the de-facto leader of the opposition—a giant in a party of pygmies.

    The Daily Beast logo
    McCain's New Plot

    John Avlon

    February 2, 2009

British Dictionary definitions for de facto

de facto


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

Word Origin and History for de facto

Latin, literally "in fact, in reality," thus, "existing, but not necessarily legally ordained;" from facto, ablative of factum "deed, act" (see fact).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

de facto in Culture

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.