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

Examples from the Web for retroactively

Contemporary Examples of retroactively

Historical Examples of retroactively

  • Such patterns, circumscribed by human self-constitution in the natural and cultural context, are significant only retroactively.

  • Retroactively the demand for mystery, which is the very soul of interest, must find new expression.

British Dictionary definitions for retroactively



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 retroactively



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