after the fact

Idioms & Phrases

after the fact

After an actual occurrence, particularly after a crime. For example, I know the brakes should have been repaired, but that doesn't help much after the fact. The use of fact for a crime dates from the first half of the 1500s. The word became standard in British law and is still used in this way today. The idiom was first recorded in 1769 in the phrase accessories after the fact, referring to persons who assist a lawbreaker after a crime has been committed. Now it is also used more loosely, as in the example above.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
Cite This Source
Explore Dictionary.com
Previous Definition: after one's own heart
Next Definition: again
Words Near: after the fact
More from Thesaurus.com
Synonyms and Antonyms for after the fact
More from Reference.com
Search for articles containing after the fact
More from Dictionary.com Translator
Dictionary.com Word FAQs

Dictionary.com presents 366 FAQs, incorporating some of the frequently asked questions from the past with newer queries.

Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature