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adjective le·git·i·mate \li-ˈji-tə-mət\

Simple Definition of legitimate

  • : allowed according to rules or laws

  • : real, accepted, or official

  • : fair or reasonable

Full Definition of legitimate

  1. 1 a :  lawfully begotten; specifically :  born in wedlock b :  having full filial rights and obligations by birth <a legitimate child>

  2. 2 :  being exactly as purposed :  neither spurious nor false <a legitimate grievance> <a legitimate practitioner>

  3. 3 a :  accordant with law or with established legal forms and requirements <a legitimate government> b :  ruling by or based on the strict principle of hereditary right <a legitimate king>

  4. 4 :  conforming to recognized principles or accepted rules and standards <a legitimate advertising expenditure> <a legitimate inference>

  5. 5 :  relating to plays acted by professional actors but not including revues, burlesque, or some forms of musical comedy <the legitimate theater>

le·git·i·mate·ly adverb

Examples of legitimate

  1. Law books were getting thicker by the week with Supreme Court decisions barring legitimate claims because they weren't timely filed. —John Grisham, The Chamber, 1995

  2. Even in many courtrooms, where there is valid concern about the privacy of defendants, judges recognize that camera coverage serves a legitimate public interest. —New Republic, 22 Feb. 1993

  3. He was indeed already a legitimate child according to the law of Scotland, by the subsequent marriage of his parents. —Sir Walter Scott, The Heart of Mid-Lothian, 1818

  4. legitimate means for achieving success

  5. the legitimate use of firearms

  6. There's no legitimate reason for prescribing this medication to a child.

Origin of legitimate

Middle English legitimat, from Medieval Latin legitimatus, past participle of legitimare to legitimate, from Latin legitimus legitimate, from leg-, lex law

First Known Use: 15th century

Synonym Discussion of legitimate

lawful, legal, legitimate, licit mean being in accordance with law. lawful may apply to conformity with law of any sort (as natural, divine, common, or canon) <the lawful sovereign>. legal applies to what is sanctioned by law or in conformity with the law, especially as it is written or administered by the courts <legal residents of the state>. legitimate may apply to a legal right or status but also, in extended use, to a right or status supported by tradition, custom, or accepted standards <a perfectly legitimate question about taxes>. licit applies to a strict conformity to the provisions of the law and applies especially to what is regulated by law <the licit use of drugs by doctors>.



verb le·git·i·mate \li-ˈji-tə-ˌmāt\

Simple Definition of legitimate

  • : to make (something) real, accepted, or official

  • : to show that (something or someone) is fair or reasonable

Full Definition of legitimate


  1. transitive verb
  2. :  to make (someone or something) legitimate (see 1legitimate): a (1) :  to give legal status or authorization to (2) :  to show or affirm to be justified (3) :  to lend authority or respectability to b :  to give (a child born out of wedlock) the same legal status as a child born in wedlock

le·git·i·ma·tion play \li-ˌji-tə-ˈmā-shən\ noun
le·git·i·mat·or play \li-ˈji-tə-ˌmā-tər\ noun

Examples of legitimate

  1. Poland has ceased being a nation with even a pretense of Communist rule, a rule that is legitimated by Marxist ideology. —Irving Kristol, Wall Street Journal, 11 Jan. 1982

  2. … they are more concerned with the ways in which schools and colleges legitimate and maintain inequality than with the ways they devalue and restrict personal autonomy. —Christopher Jencks, New York Times Book Review, 15 Feb. 1976

  3. Which comes first, the desire to legitimate euthanasia or the nullifying of a distinction between killing and allowing to die? —Daniel Callahan, Commonweal, 2 June 2000

  4. slang words legitimated by usage

  5. Her tendency to be secretive only serves to legitimate their suspicions.

Origin of legitimate

(see 1legitimate)

First Known Use: 1531

Rhymes with legitimate

abbreviate, abominate, accelerate, accentuate, accommodate, acculturate, accumulate, adjudicate, adulterate, affiliate, agglomerate, alienate, alleviate, alliterate, amalgamate, ameliorate, amyl nitrate, annihilate, annunciate, anticipate, apostolate, appreciate, appropriate, approximate, arpeggiate, articulate, asphyxiate, assassinate, asseverate, assimilate, associate, at any rate, attenuate, authenticate, barbiturate, bicarbonate, calumniate, capacitate, capitulate, catholicate, certificate, coagulate, coelenterate, collaborate, commemorate, commiserate, communicate, compassionate, concatenate, conciliate, confabulate, confederate, conglomerate, congratulate, consolidate, contaminate, cooperate, coordinate, corroborate, deactivate, debilitate, decapitate, decelerate, decerebrate, deconcentrate, deconsecrate, decorticate, decrepitate, de-escalate, defibrinate, defoliate, degenerate, deliberate, delineate, demodulate, denominate, depopulate, depreciate, deracinate, deregulate, desegregate, desiderate, detoxicate, devaluate, diaconate, dilapidate, discriminate, disintegrate, disseminate, dissimulate, dissociate, domesticate, effectuate, ejaculate, elaborate, electroplate, eliminate, elucidate, emaciate, emancipate, emasculate, encapsulate, enumerate, enunciate, episcopate, equivocate, eradicate, etiolate, evacuate, evaluate, evaporate, eventuate, eviscerate, exacerbate, exaggerate, exasperate, excited state, excogitate, excoriate, exfoliate, exhilarate, exonerate, expatiate, expatriate, expectorate, expostulate, expropriate, extenuate, exterminate, extrapolate, facilitate, felicitate, fish or cut bait, garrison state, gesticulate, habilitate, habituate, hallucinate, humiliate, hydrogenate, hypothecate, illuminate, impersonate, inactivate, inaugurate, incarcerate, incinerate, incorporate, incriminate, indoctrinate, inebriate, infatuate, infuriate, ingratiate, ingurgitate, initiate, inoculate, inseminate, insinuate, instantiate, intercalate, interpolate, interrelate, interrogate, intimidate, intoxicate, invalidate, investigate, invigorate, irradiate, Italianate, Korea Strait, lanceolate, luxuriate, mandarinate, manipulate, matriarchate, matriculate, Merthiolate, necessitate, negotiate, noncandidate, obliterate, officiate, Orange Free State, orientate, originate, oxygenate, participate, particulate, patriarchate, patriciate, perambulate, peregrinate, perpetuate, pontificate, precipitate, predestinate, predominate, prefabricate, premeditate, preponderate, prevaricate, procrastinate, prognosticate, proliferate, propitiate, proportionate, quadruplicate, quintuplicate, reciprocate, recriminate, recuperate, redecorate, reduplicate, reeducate, refrigerate, regenerate, regurgitate, reincarnate, reintegrate, reiterate, rejuvenate, remunerate, repatriate, repudiate, resuscitate, retaliate, reticulate, revaluate, reverberate, scholasticate, second estate, self-flagellate, self-immolate, self-pollinate, seventy-eight, sextuplicate, Singapore Strait, sophisticate, subordinate, substantiate, syllabicate, tergiversate, transliterate, triangulate, vanity plate, variegate, vaticinate, vituperate, vociferate

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February 7, 2016

a slight offense

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