Ipso Facto

The Latin term ipso facto translates as “the fact by itself.” It is used in science, philosophy, and law to refer to something that, by the fact that it exists – or that it occurred – means something else is true. For example, if you grew up in San Francisco, ipso facto you’re a Californian. By the very fact of having grown up in a city within the state, you are a Californian. To explore this concept, consider the following ipso facto definition.

Definition of Ipso Facto


  1. By the very fact; by the very nature of the deed


1540-1550       Latin

What is Ipso Facto

In law, most lawyers and scholars have abandoned legalese and Latin terms as much as possible. However, one clinging to such language might be used to state that a thing is so obvious that it requires no further explanation. As an example, ipso facto might be used to say, “Mr. Smith is blind, ipso facto he is not entitled to hold a driver’s license.”

Example of Ipso Facto

Marcus married Angela three years ago, before he became ill. What she never knew was that he was already married to Stephanie, and had been for nine years. When Marcus dies of his illness, the probate court determines that, because Marcus was still married to Stephanie when he married Angela, Angela’s marriage is, ipso facto, invalid.

Ipso Facto Examples in Sentences

The term ipso facto is used to emphasize such things as problems of perspective, and contradiction, in which a success is achieved by an apparent failure. As an example, ipso facto might be used in this case:

  1. It was Barbara’s goal to lower Margaret’s opinion of her, so that Margaret would assign the project to another associate. When Margaret told Barbara she had failed, ipso facto she had succeeded in her goal.
  2. If all squares are rectangles, and all rectangles have four sides, then ipso facto, all squares have four sides.
  3. Joe is an illegal alien. He, ipso facto, is not entitled to a U.S. passport.
  4. Marilyn was teaching her history class at the time of the murder, ipso facto her innocence is established.

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