operative with respect to past occurrences, as a statute; retrospective: a retroactive law.
pertaining to a pay raise effective as of a past date.

Origin of retroactive

First recorded in 1605–15; retro- + active
Related formsret·ro·ac·tive·ly, adverbret·ro·ac·tiv·i·ty, nounnon·ret·ro·ac·tive, adjectivenon·ret·ro·ac·tive·ly, adverbnon·ret·ro·ac·tiv·i·ty, nounun·ret·ro·ac·tive, adjectiveun·ret·ro·ac·tive·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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Contemporary Examples of retroactive

Historical Examples of retroactive

British Dictionary definitions for retroactive



applying or referring to the pastretroactive legislation
effective or operative from a date or for a period in the past
Derived Formsretroactively, adverbretroactiveness or retroactivity, noun
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 retroactive

1610s, from French rétroactif (16c.) "casting or relating back," from Latin retroact-, past participle stem of retroagere "drive or turn back," from retro- "back" (see retro-) + agere "to drive, set in motion" (see act (v.)). Related: Retroactively.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper