Friday, 5 September 2014

What Do De Facto and De Jure Mean?


Adverbial & adjectival phrase. Early 17th century.
[Latin = of fact.]

(Existing, held, etc.) in fact, in reality;
in actual existence, force, or possession, whether by right or not.


Adverbial & adjectival phrase. Mid-16th century.
[Latin = of law.]

(Existing, held, etc.) rightfully, according to law (frequently as opposed to de facto).

Two terms that seem to appear with increasing frequency in news reports are de facto and de jure, as in the headline: Russia executes de facto takeover of Crimea. This means that, regardless of legal standing, Russia has taken over and is now governing Crimea, even if if it remains part of the Ukraine de jure.

Another example is that of my friend Heather, whose de jure name is Mary, because at her christening the Catholic priest refused to accept a pagan name like Heather. Thus, de jure (legally), her name is Mary, as recorded on her birth certificate and all other official documentation, but de facto (in reality and practice) her name is Heather, because that's what we all use, know her by and love her as.

Do you have any examples of de facto and de jure?

Do please leave any comments or examples in the box below.


  1. Sometimes I wonder am I a figment of my own imagination? ....

    1. Sometimes I wonder if I'm a figment of your imagined self's imagination.

  2. De facto, I'm Portuguese. And this word is still alive in our daily conversation. As it is.
    We have some "problems" with names too... mainly on the past times when people taking note didn't take good note of the name told, or dad would register the child after being too long at the pub what gave origin to hilarious stories. In my mother-in-law family, her sisters and brothers, they all were registered with a different surname. Kid you not. Everytime her father went to register another child he'd get inventive ;)

    1. If you're only de facto Portuguese, what nationality are you de jure?

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