ex post facto

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

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

Keep scrolling for more

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 But there are all sorts of ex post facto good reasons for not eating meat. New York Times, "Do Americans Need Air-Conditioning?," 3 July 2019 But the Supreme Court, led by Roberts, accepted his ex post facto rationale for the ban’s third iteration. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "The Supreme Court Seems Oddly Ambivalent About Being Lied To," 27 June 2019 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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about ex post facto

Time Traveler for ex post facto

Time Traveler

The first known use of ex post facto was in 1621

See more words from the same year

Statistics for ex post facto

Cite this Entry

“Ex post facto.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ex%20post%20facto. Accessed 20 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for ex post facto

ex post facto

adverb
\ ˈeks-ˌpōst-ˈfak-tō How to pronounce ex post facto (audio) \

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

Comments on ex post facto

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

WORD OF THE DAY

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

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!