De facto

What does it mean?674018

De facto is a Latin term which has become part of the English language. It means ‘in reality,’ ‘in practice’ or ‘actually.’ In Australia and New Zealand, it is also a term for ‘common law wife.’


The literal translation of De facto from Latin to English is ‘in fact.’ It is unknown when it first came into use as an accepted part of the English language.

Standard Use

De facto can be used as an adjective, adverb and a noun, and is often used to refer to a practice which is common or accepted, but not officially recognised or legal. Examples of use in a sentence include:

              ‘Bob’s girlfriend was his de facto wife.’
              ‘She’s become a de facto politician in her local community.’