retroactive

adjective

ret·​ro·​ac·​tive ˌre-trō-ˈak-tiv How to pronounce retroactive (audio)
: extending in scope or effect to a prior time or to conditions that existed or originated in the past
especially : made effective as of a date prior to enactment, promulgation, or imposition
retroactive tax
retroactively adverb
retroactivity noun

Did you know?

We normally think of time as constantly moving forward. Since retroactive seems to defy time's forward movement, retroactive taxes, laws, and regulations are often seen as particularly obnoxious and unfair. But nobody ever objects to receiving a retroactive raise at work. When we judge historical people and events in terms of present-day morality and attitudes, our retroactive judgments may indicate that we're too impressed with ourselves and ignorant of history.

Examples of retroactive in a Sentence

They all received a retroactive pay raise. The new tax will be retroactive to January 1.
Recent Examples on the Web The university’s application also seeks retroactive approval of a gate. Michael Smolens, San Diego Union-Tribune, 17 May 2024 As a retroactive test, Inca applied its crypto Twitter model to Silicon Valley Bank, which Zarazinski shared with Fortune. Leo Schwartz, Fortune, 15 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for retroactive 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'retroactive.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

French rétroactif, from Latin retroactus, past participle of retroagere to drive back, reverse, from retro- + agere to drive — more at agent

First Known Use

1611, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of retroactive was in 1611

Dictionary Entries Near retroactive

Cite this Entry

“Retroactive.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/retroactive. Accessed 30 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

retroactive

adjective
ret·​ro·​ac·​tive ˌre-trō-ˈak-tiv How to pronounce retroactive (audio)
: intended to apply or take effect at a date in the past
a retroactive pay raise
retroactively adverb

Medical Definition

retroactive

adjective
ret·​ro·​ac·​tive ˌre-trō-ˈak-tiv How to pronounce retroactive (audio)
: having relation or reference to or efficacy in a prior time
specifically : relating to, caused by, or being obliteration of the results of learning by immediately subsequent activity
retroactive inhibition

Legal Definition

retroactive

adjective
ret·​ro·​ac·​tive ˌre-trō-ˈak-tiv How to pronounce retroactive (audio)
: extending in scope or effect to a prior time or to conditions that existed or originated in the past
especially : made effective as of a date prior to enactment, promulgation, or imposition
a retroactive tax
see also ex post facto law
retroactively adverb
retroactivity noun
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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