1. something that actually exists; reality; truth: Your fears have no basis in fact.
  2. something known to exist or to have happened: Space travel is now a fact.
  3. a truth known by actual experience or observation; something known to be true: Scientists gather facts about plant growth.
  4. something said to be true or supposed to have happened: The facts given by the witness are highly questionable.
  5. Law. Often facts. an actual or alleged event or circumstance, as distinguished from its legal effect or consequence.Compare question of fact, question of law.

  1. after the fact, Law. after the commission of a crime: an accessory after the fact.
  2. before the fact, Law. prior to the commission of a crime: an accessory before the fact.
  3. in fact, actually; really; indeed: In fact, it was a wonder that anyone survived.


  1. an event or thing known to have happened or existed
  2. a truth verifiable from experience or observation
  3. a piece of informationget me all the facts of this case
  4. law (often plural) an actual event, happening, etc, as distinguished from its legal consequences. Questions of fact are decided by the jury, questions of law by the court or judge
  5. philosophy a proposition that may be either true or false, as contrasted with an evaluative statement
  6. after the fact criminal law after the commission of the offencean accessory after the fact
  7. before the fact criminal law before the commission of the offence
  8. as a matter of fact, in fact or in point of fact in reality or actuality
  9. fact of life an inescapable truth, esp an unpleasant one
  10. the fact of the matter the truth

1530s, “action,” especially “evil deed,” from Latin factum “event, occurrence,” literally “thing done,” neuter past participle of facere “to do” (see factitious). Usual modern sense of “thing known to be true” appeared 1630s, from notion of “something that has actually occurred.” Facts of life “harsh realities” is from 1854; specific sense of “human sexual functions” first recorded 1913.

In addition to the idiom beginning with fact

  • facts of life

also see:

  • after the fact
  • in fact
  • is that a fact
  • matter of fact
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