ex post facto

adverb
ex post fac·​to | \ˌeks-ˌpōs(t)-ˈfak-(ˌ)tō \

Definition of ex post facto 

(Entry 1 of 2)

: after the fact : retroactively

ex post facto

adjective

Definition of ex post facto (Entry 2 of 2)

: done, made, or formulated after the fact : retroactive ex post facto approval ex post facto laws

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Did You Know?

Ex post facto is Latin for "from a thing done afterward". Approval for a project that's given ex post facto—after the project already has been begun or completed—may just have been given in order to save face. An ex post facto law is one that declares someone's action to be criminal only after it was committed--a procedure forbidden by our Constitution.

Examples of ex post facto in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The Constitution expressly prohibits Congress and the states from enacting ex post facto laws. Robert F. Turner, WSJ, "Gina Haspel Followed Faulty Advice in Good Faith," 21 Mar. 2018 Would using an ex post facto diagnosis on the job market give me an unfair advantage? Kwame Anthony Appiah, New York Times, "Can Autism Make Me a Diversity Hire?," 17 Jan. 2018 The leap, the extension, the tapping toes, the viselike grip that nullifies any ex post facto claim that this catch was not a catch. Josh Levin, Slate Magazine, "The Greatest, Saddest Super Bowl Ever," 6 Feb. 2017 Vote suppression is not the same thing as a one-party state, and any number-juggling that suggests that is just silly, but, sure, put together enough restrictions and gerrymandering and ex post facto laws and so on, and that can add up. Andrew Gelman, Slate Magazine, "The Bad Research Behind the Bogus Claim That North Carolina Is No Longer a Democracy," 4 Jan. 2017 Applying those changes retroactively, the court reasoned, violated the Constitution’s ban on ex post facto punishments. Matt Ford, The Atlantic, "American Policing Goes to the Supreme Court," 1 Oct. 2017 Some scholars worry such estimates could be used to justify, ex post facto, the policy’s existence, and feel that Goodkind’s criticisms of previous work fall outside the bounds of scholarly decorum. Mara Hvistendahl, Science | AAAS, "Analysis of China’s one-child policy sparks uproar," 18 Oct. 2017 Watson, by far the most popular alternative, spurred more ex post facto grousing over Jackson’s victory by scoring four touchdowns to propel Clemson past Alabama in an epic national championship game rematch. Chris Johnson, SI.com, "Despite a Torrid Start, Lamar Jackson’s Second Heisman Campaign Has Plenty of Obstacles," 13 Sep. 2017 Faced with more evidence that Trump’s initial public rationale for firing Comey was misleading, the White House seems to have constructed an ex post facto legal justification for the dismissal, which Sanders delivered on Wednesday. David A. Graham, The Atlantic, "The White House Declares War on James Comey," 13 Sep. 2017

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

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First Known Use of ex post facto

Adverb

1621, in the meaning defined above

Adjective

1787, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ex post facto

Adverb

Late Latin, literally, from a thing done afterward

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The first known use of ex post facto was in 1621

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More Definitions for ex post facto

ex post facto

adverb
\ˈeks-ˌpōst-ˈfak-tō \

Legal Definition of ex post facto 

(Entry 1 of 2)

: after the fact : retroactively cannot judge ex post facto

ex post facto

adjective

Legal Definition of ex post facto (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : done, made, or formulated after the fact : retroactive

2 : of or relating to an ex post facto law the chief concerns of the ex post facto ban— L. H. Tribe

History and Etymology for ex post facto

Adverb

Late Latin, literally, from a thing done afterward

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