Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An accomplished, presumably irreversible deed or fact.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An accomplished fact, something that has already occurred; a done deal.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • A fact accomplished; a thing done; a scheme already carried into execution.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an irreversible accomplishment

Etymologies

French : fait, fact + accompli, accomplished.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French fait accompli ("an accomplished fact"), from fait ("a fact") + accompli ("accomplished"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • Meaning

    An accomplished fact; an action which is completed before those affected by it are in a position to query or reverse it.

    Origin

    The literal translation into English of this French phrase is a fact realized or accomplished - what might these days be called a done deal. Strangely, it entered the English language via a travelogue of Spain rather than France. Richard Ford's A hand-book for travellers in Spain (1845) was, and still is, regarded as a classic of travel writing. In it Ford included the phrase "This is now a fait accompli.", in regard of some previously decided fact.

    March 9, 2008