After the Fact

Meaning of “After the Fact”

This phrase means the situation after a particular action, affairs, or a crime is committed. In other words, it means something major happens, right after the previous significant event or situation. It is mostly used as legal jargon.

Origin of “After the Fact”

The word “fact” associated with “after” or “before” such as after the fact or before the fact has been in use in the English language since the 16th century. Their first written reference is found in Apology of Staphylus by Thomas Stapleton as back as in 1565.

In an alternate theory, this phrase is taken from “accessory after the fact” which has been in common usage during the seventh century. However, there is no written record about the usage of this phrase.

Examples in Literature

Examples #1

After the Fact – lyrics by Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge written by Stephen Bruton

The radio says more rain today as if it’s overdue
But that rain has a lonesome sound
Everytime I think of you

I hear it’s raining where you are tonight
Is your pillow soft and warm?

Well are you lonely or are you laughing
Or are you sleeping in somebody’s arms

It doesn’t seem so long ago
It never does looking back
After the fact of losing love

Can cause some rain to fall
And turn your sunny skies back to grey
When the wind it’s a brand new trail
But when you lose
You know that losing hurts the same old way

It doesn’t seem so long ago
It never does looking back
After the fact of losing love

This popular lyric has been written by Stephen Burton and sung by the pair, Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge. The love starts with the imaginary dialog of the poet with his beloved in which he asks her how the weather is and where she is. The use of this phrase shows that the poet feels as if they have just ended the relationship a day before. As he says, “After the fact of losing love.” It clearly means the important conversation was taking place after the breakup, which is also an important situation.

Examples #2

After the Fact by Nathan Bomey

This book by Nathan Bomey sheds light on the recent rise of a post-truth cultural era and its impacts on the society. He has reviewed the increase in power of Trump in the United States to argue that his arrival was inevitable. He also has explained the trends of spinning and distortion of facts and truth which is responsible for creating a new age of social media and innovative thinking to deal with the problems. The book explores the convergence of media, technology, and politics to mold the cultural fabric. The very title of the book highlights that the incident has taken place before the rise of Trump and similar personalities through the use of this phrase.

Examples #3

Flowers After the Fact by Terri Clark

Ten days too late you show up
With a sheepish grin and a bouquet in your hand
You make mistakes by the dozen
Don’t think you can make it up the same way again


Flowers after the fact
Ain’t gonna get me back
You gotta do something sooner and better than that
When you bring me red roses
There’s an ulterior motive
Don’t give me flowers after the fact

No part of your heart’s ever in it
You’re just trying to get your foot back in the door
I might feel like you meant it
If those long stems had come in the name of love before

(Repeat Chorus)

When you bring me red roses
There’s an ulterior motive
Don’t need no flowers after the fact
Now don’t give me flowers after the fact

This is a very beautiful song by Terri Clark, a Canadian country music artist. Clark has expressed his dismay over the breakup of his relationship. The breakup has been stated through the use of this phrase, which shows that he does not need flowers after this breakup. The phrase has been used four times with the flowers, which means the singer is not interested in another after the fact event after their relationship has ended.

Example #4

From “The Eclogues” from Virgil’s Aeneid: A Reader’s Guide by David Ross

“None of Virgil’s three poems was predictable. After the fact, they each seem so natural, almost inevitable because his precedent immediately became compelling and continued right up to the present. Pastoral poetry, though, had been only a minor cove in the coastline of Hellenistic poetry, inhabited only by Theocritus, and he only as a summer resident. Then why would anyone think of composing a didactic poem on farming? Hesiod was the obvious precedent, but very little of his Works and Days is actually to be seen in the Georgics. The very idea of an epic, “on kings and battles,” was a curse at the time to any Roman poet with pretension to taste and to learn. However, due to each of the three poems now seems so natural, the question “why?” is rarely asked.

This paragraph has been taken from David Ross’ book on Virgil. He has used the phrase in the very first line and second sentence to state that poems of Virgil seem to have set standards. The expression here means the events took place after writing the poems and not before this act of Virgil. Therefore, the use of this phrase is suitable.

Example in Sentences as Literary Devices

Example #1: “Many short stories of Edgar Allen Poe show after the fact and paint the protagonist in a bad light. The narrator could have stayed neutral.” Here the phrase has been given as a metaphor of the situation in the post-crime world. Therefore, it is its metaphorical use.

Example #2: “As you have not done anything as yet, therefore, it cannot be stated that your situation is like after the fact.” Here the situation is compared to the phrase used as a simile as the use of the word “like” shows.

Example #3: “He has not revealed after the fact, or else he would have been charged in the court.”

Example #4: “To make a decision after the fact in case of production in the factory is a costly one.” Here the phrase has been used as a metaphor for a costly decision.

Example #5: “After the fact in case of crimes reveals many crucial facts.” Here the word “fact” has been used as a repetition for impacts.