de facto

adverb
de fac·to | \di-ˈfak-(ˌ)tō, dā-, dē-\

Definition of de facto 

(Entry 1 of 2)

: in reality : actually became the leader de facto

de facto

adjective

Definition of de facto (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : actual especially : being such in effect though not formally recognized a de facto state of war Whatever it says on the calendar, Florida has de facto summer. — E. L. Konigsburg has become the movement's de facto spokesperson

2 : exercising power as if legally constituted a de facto government the de facto head of state

3 : resulting from economic or social factors rather than from laws or actions of the state de facto segregation

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of de facto in a Sentence

Adjective

with the death of his father, he became the de facto head of the family

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Since his return to Cleveland, James, as the de facto head of the franchise, has made clear his preference for being surrounded by teammates who are finished products and/or deferential to him. Mike Sielski, Philly.com, "LeBron James to the Sixers? Two big factors make it unlikely | Mike Sielski," 29 June 2018 The Brave New World of Legalized Sports Betting, Explained Illustration by Alicia Tatone The Supreme Court has ended the de facto federal prohibition on sports gambling. Jay Willis, GQ, "The Brave New World of Legalized Sports Betting, Explained," 14 May 2018 The case also led to the arrest of Lee Jae-yong, the de facto head of Samsung. Choe Sang-hun, BostonGlobe.com, "South Korea’s ousted president gets 24 years in prison," 6 Apr. 2018 How does a de facto diplomat recover from such rhetorical carnage? Robin Givhan, Houston Chronicle, "Nothing else Melania Trump wears will ever matter again," 13 July 2018 Analysts have been debating how quickly Saudi Arabia, the de facto head of OPEC, and other large producers could fill a potential supply gap. Sarah Mcfarlane, WSJ, "Oil Tumbles on Libya’s Returning Supply," 11 July 2018 Liu Xia, the widow of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and human rights activist Liu Xiaobo, has left China for Europe after eight years under de facto house arrest. Suyin Haynes, Time, "Widow of Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo Leaves China After Eight Years Under House Arrest, Reports Say," 10 July 2018 What comprises a de facto life sentence: Is 50 years too long? Samantha Melamed, Philly.com, "Why are juvenile lifers from Philly getting radically different sentences than those in the rest of Pennsylvania?," 10 July 2018 Also of great interest, there is a girl in the de facto all-boys group. Chris Chase, BostonGlobe.com, "Chess notes," 7 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'de facto.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of de facto

Adverb

1601, in the meaning defined above

Adjective

circa 1689, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for de facto

Adverb

borrowed from Medieval Latin, literally, "from the fact"

Adjective

derivative of de facto entry 1

Adverb

Medieval Latin, literally, from the fact

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about de facto

Statistics for de facto

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for de facto

The first known use of de facto was in 1601

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for de facto

de facto

adverb
de fac·to | \di-ˈfak-tō, dā-, dē- \

Legal Definition of de facto 

(Entry 1 of 2)

: in reality : actually these two constraints have been lifted, one de facto and one de jure— Susan Lee

de facto

adjective

Legal Definition of de facto (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : actual especially : being such in effect though not formally recognized — see also de facto segregation at segregation

2 : exercising power as if legally constituted or authorized a de facto government a de facto judge — compare de jure

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on de facto

What made you want to look up de facto? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

not any or not one

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!