Before the fact


      • to refer to something occurring prior to a certain event or action
        To describe something that happened before a particular incident or decision was made, often with the implication that it should have been taken into consideration

      • to anticipate or plan for something that may happen in the future
        To indicate that preparations or precautions were taken before a certain event or decision, usually in order to avoid any negative consequences

      • to take preventative measures
        To suggest that steps were taken before a certain action or event in order to prevent any problems or issues from arising

    Examples of Before the fact

    • I'm not sure if your idea will work before the fact, but let's proceed with it anyway.

      "Before the fact" can be used to talk about something that hasn't yet happened or been proven. In this case, the speaker is admitting that they aren't certain if a proposed idea will be successful, but they're willing to give it a try.

    • Before the fact, I didn't think you would have the courage to do that.

      Here, the speaker is expressing surprise at something that happened because they originally assumed the opposite would occur. By using "before the fact," they're indicating that their initial impression was inaccurate.

    • Before the fact, I could never have imagined the number of people who would attend that event.

      "Before the fact" can be used to describe something unexpected. In this scenario, the speaker is discussing an event where the turnout far exceeded expectations.

    • I think this investment is going to be a wise decision before the fact.

      By utilizing "before the fact," the speaker is suggesting that they believe a certain course of action will turn out well, despite any potential risks or uncertainties.

    • The attorney advised his client to sign the prenuptial agreement before the fact to ensure his assets were protected in case of a divorce.

      This idiom is used to express that a person is taking a precautionary measure before any negative or unfortunate event might occur. In this example, the attorney is recommending his client to take proactive measures and sign a prenuptial agreement before they get married, to safeguard his assets in case the marriage breaks down in the future.

    • The research team conducted a thorough background check on the company's potential investors before the fact to confirm their credibility and avoid any future legal or financial disputes.

      This idiom expresses the need to gather information or conduct research before making any decisions or entering into any agreements. In this example, the investigators performed a detailed assessment of the investors' financial and legal credentials before welcoming them as partners, in order to minimize any risks of future complications.

    • The technician installed a security system in the building before the fact to prevent any theft, burglary, or break-ins.

      The use of this idiom is to highlight the importance of taking preventive measures before any potential danger or mishaps. Here, the technician is explaining that the deployment of the security system was carried out before any theft or security breaches took place, to fortify the building's safety.

    • The manager trained his team on safety protocols before the fact to mitigate any accidents or hazards.

      This idiom conveys the significance of conducting training sessions or preparing employees prior to any critical incidents or hazardous situations. Here, the manager is implying that his staff received training on safety measures and procedures before they encountered any hazardous situations, which allowed them to respond effectively and avoid accidents.


    The idiom "before the fact" is most commonly used to refer to something that occurred before a specific event or decision. It can be used to caution against engaging in a particular activity or task, to indicate that preparations were made beforehand, or to suggest that preventative measures were taken.

    In all of these uses, the intention is to convey a sense of foresight or prior knowledge. The idiom implies that the person or group involved had some knowledge or information that should have been taken into consideration before the event or decision took place.

    Origin of "Before the fact"

    The origin of the idiom "before the fact" is often attributed to the legal system, specifically in reference to criminal cases. In this context, it is used to describe evidence that was known prior to a crime being committed. It was first recorded in the late 19th century and became a common phrase in legal jargon.

    Over time, the idiom began to be used more broadly in everyday language to refer to any situation where something happened or was done before a certain event or decision. It is now a commonly used phrase in various contexts, including business, politics, and personal relationships.

    Examples of the idiom being used in its legal sense can be found in literature, such as in the 1904 novel "The Pit" by Frank Norris. However, its usage in a broader sense can be seen in a variety of sources, such as newspapers, books, and speeches. It has become a widely recognized idiom with multiple meanings that can be applied in various situations.