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The Complete Vocabulary Builder Workbook



How to pronounce retroactive (audio)

Dictionary definition of retroactive

Having an effect on events that have already occurred.
"The company implemented a retroactive pay raise to make up for years of low wages."

Detailed meaning of retroactive

It is often used in legal contexts to describe laws or regulations that are enacted with the intention of applying to past situations. For example, a retroactive tax law would require individuals to pay taxes on income they earned before the law was passed. This can be controversial, as it can be seen as unfair to hold people accountable for actions they took before the new law came into effect. In general, retroactive actions are considered unusual and are only taken in exceptional circumstances where the benefits of doing so outweigh the potential harm.

Example sentences containing retroactive

1. The new policy is not retroactive, so it won't affect past transactions.
2. The retroactive law made many people unhappy, as they had to pay more taxes.
3. The contract includes a retroactive clause that covers events that happened before its signing.
4. The judge ruled that the law could not be applied retroactively, as it would be unjust.
5. The retroactive decision to ban the product caused chaos in the market.
6. The employee received a retroactive promotion for their outstanding work.

History and etymology of retroactive

The adjective 'retroactive' has its etymological roots in two Latin words: 'retro,' meaning 'backward,' and 'actus,' meaning 'action' or 'event.' When combined, these elements form 'retroactus,' which signifies an action or event that moves backward in time. In English, this term evolved into 'retroactive,' describing something that has an effect on events that have already occurred. It denotes the ability to apply a rule, law, or action to past events, essentially looking back in time to modify or influence outcomes that have already transpired. The etymology of 'retroactive' underscores its temporal quality, emphasizing the idea that it operates in a backward direction, affecting the past rather than the present or future.

Quiz: Find the meaning of retroactive

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Further usage examples of retroactive

1. The retroactive changes to the immigration policy affected many people's residency status.
2. The retroactive application of the new rule was deemed necessary to ensure fairness.
3. The committee decided to make the policy retroactive to ensure it was applied consistently.
4. The retroactive date for the insurance policy was set to the day of purchase.
5. The retroactive cancellation of the contract caused a lot of confusion and legal disputes.
6. The new tax law is retroactive, affecting incomes from the start of the fiscal year.
7. They passed a retroactive pay raise, much to the delight of the employees.
8. The retroactive policy change created confusion among students who had already enrolled.
9. The judge decided against applying retroactive punishment for the revised criminal code.
10. Retroactive data collection is a method used to study patterns over an extended period.
11. The board approved a retroactive budget increase to cover unexpected operational costs.
12. A retroactive insurance policy may cover incidents that happened before it was purchased.
13. Parents were unhappy with the retroactive change to school zoning districts.
14. The retroactive amendment corrected errors in the original contract.
15. He argued that the retroactive application of the law was unfair to those previously convicted.
16. The software update had a retroactive fix for a security flaw identified last month.
17. Retroactive grading adjustments surprised students who thought they had final marks.
18. The retroactive certification means that older models are now considered compliant.
19. Employee benefits received a retroactive enhancement, pleasing long-serving staff.
20. The retroactive adjustment to tax brackets has led to revised annual returns for many.
21. The union fought for retroactive health benefits in the latest round of negotiations.
22. A retroactive analysis was conducted to track the source of the contamination.
23. The retroactive clause in the agreement confused stakeholders who had already committed.
24. The company issued a retroactive refund for customers affected by the service outage.
25. Veterans argued for a retroactive extension of educational grants that had expired.



backward-acting, prospective, forward, future


GRE 2 (Graduate Record Examination), SAT 4 (Scholastic Assessment Test), Legal Terms and Concepts

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