Is there a qualitative difference, or in the sense of finality, or irreversibility or changeability, some negative connotation, e.g. fate may be affected by future actions, but fait accompli is not?

Since there can be many shades or a broad spectrum of meanings of a word, I am trying to understand what is the intersection of the two spectra. The reason I ask this question is that I wrote a few lines of poetry which allude to many things and can have multiple interpretations. I'm trying to understand how much of a poetic liberty I have taken, and how much of it will be understood by the reader. I could just mention the lines, but it is unpublished and therefore, did not want to post it yet. I kept the question broad very intentionally so that I could see what comes to the mind of the people as the first sense of these words, but did not expect negative comments without an attempt of an answer, especially when I cannot respond to the "user" directly.


Definition of fate 1 : the will or principle or determining cause by which things in general are believed to come to be as they are or events to happen as they do : destiny … fate sometimes deals a straight flush … he had no idea that he would become the right man in the right place at the right time … —June Goodfield 2 a : an inevitable and often adverse outcome, condition, or end Her fate was to remain in exile. b : disaster; especially : death The villain met his fate at the hands of the hero.

-- https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fate

plural faits accomplis \ˈfā-tə-ˌkäm-ˈplē(z), ˈfe-, ˈfe-ˌta-, -ˌkōⁿ(m)-, British usually -ˈkäm-(ˌ)plē(z)\ : a thing accomplished and presumably irreversible he charged that the members were presented with a fait accompli instead of being called to a meeting to discuss the policy change —Daniel Thomases

-- https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fait%20accompli

  • 2
    'Fate' is a matter of (supposed) future (or past) inevitability. A 'fait accompli' is a matter of past unchangeability. The difference lies in the fact that fate is a supposition, unproven. Whereas a 'fait accompli' has undeniably occurred.
    – Nigel J
    May 14, 2018 at 19:11
  • 1
    Please see How do I ask a good question?, taking care to note the comments on search & research, including: "Have you thoroughly searched for an answer before asking your question? Sharing your research helps everyone. Tell us what you found and why it didn’t meet your needs. This demonstrates that you’ve taken the time to try to help yourself, it saves us from reiterating obvious answers, and above all, it helps you get a more specific and relevant answer!" May 14, 2018 at 19:13
  • The difference? They mean different things. Which you would know if you'd bothered to look them up.
    – Hot Licks
    May 14, 2018 at 21:53
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    In American English, fate is pronounced /fet/, while fait in fait accompli is pronounced /fɛt/. So they aren't the same, any more than bait and bet are. And there is no historical or semantic relation, except that both are abstract nouns, which is not much. May 14, 2018 at 22:30
  • 1
    @JohnLawler - While /fɛt/ would be a preferable pronounciation for fait, (it's how I pronounce it myself), it seems my fellow citizens are fated to prefer the Merriam-Webster prescription the OP has appended to his question. Audio here: merriam-webster.com/dictionary/…
    – Doc G.
    May 15, 2018 at 0:34

2 Answers 2


Apart from the fact that 'fate' and 'fait' sound similar, 'fate' and 'fait accompli' have nothing in common. They mean different things.

fate noun UK ​ /feɪt/ US ​ /feɪt/ ​ B2 [ C usually singular ] what happens to a particular person or thing, especially something final or negative, such as death or defeat:

We want to decide our own fate. His fate is now in the hands of the jury. The disciples were terrified that they would suffer/meet the same fate as Jesus. ​ B2 [ U ] a power that some people believe causes and controls all events, so that you cannot change or control the way things will happen:

When we met again by chance in Cairo, I felt it must be fate. Fate has brought us together.

Cambridge Dictionary

'Fait accompli' is a French phrase meaning an 'accomplished fact', one which leaves no room for argument. If my wife and I decide to buy a car, and I want a Honda, but she wants a Toyota, I might seek to win the argument by buying the Honda and presenting that fact to her as a fait accompli.

fait accompli noun [ C ] UK ​ /ˌfet ə.kɒmˈpliː/ US ​ /ˌfeɪt ə.kɑːmˈpliː/ plural faits accomplis ​ something that has already happened or been done and cannot be changed:

The policy change was presented to us as a fait accompli, without consultation or discussion.

Cambridge Dictionary

  • 1
    Maybe it's just me, but I would feel uncomfortable not saying fait accompli as the French do; I have been speaking French for over 50 years, and the spectre of my first teacher would haunt me if I said it any other way. May 14, 2018 at 19:39
  • ...and (if I may add a bit of levity to the discussion) a fiat accompli is an Italian car that has come off the assembly line and is ready to be driven away.
    – tautophile
    May 15, 2018 at 3:51
  • I got 3 down votes for my answer. Did it breach a guideline? May 15, 2018 at 6:27
  • @MichaelHarvey I didnt DV but some here do DV answers to questions that should be closed, or that they think should be closed, or that it is obvious that they should be closed, due to no research, et al. May 15, 2018 at 17:28
  • I wondered about that. May 15, 2018 at 18:52

The difference between fate and fait accompli is the same as the difference between chalk and cheese.

Fait means exactly the same in French as does fact in English. Aside from its pronunciation (in the US), it has nothing to do with the English word fate.

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