il·​leg·​i·​ble (ˌ)i(l)-ˈle-jə-bəl How to pronounce illegible (audio)
: not legible : indecipherable
illegible writing
illegibly adverb

Examples of illegible in a Sentence

illegible signatures on the petition will be disregarded
Recent Examples on the Web Coming into Wilbraham, Home of [illegible] Ice Cream, its sign was buried under snow. Peter Rubin, Longreads, 26 Mar. 2024 But their articulation in the work is, in most cases, feeble, perfunctory and completely illegible without the accompaniment of convoluted, brain-draining texts. Sebastian Smee, Washington Post, 16 Mar. 2024 Image From the ground, though, looking up, the work is a glowing, cherry smudge — the idea of a sign, but illegible. Martha Schwendener, New York Times, 13 Mar. 2024 In later centuries, teams organized by other European powers, including one assembled by Napoleon, pieced together torn bits of mostly illegible text here and there. Cheri Lucas Rowlands, Longreads, 5 Feb. 2024 Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Edward B. Moreton, Jr. terminated the case after Hirsch filed a declaration in largely illegible handwriting and failed to meet a court deadline for a case management statement. Nancy Dillon, Rolling Stone, 15 Dec. 2023 Sometimes the names on census forms are illegible or spelled differently from one year to the next. Tracy Scott Forson, Smithsonian Magazine, 6 Feb. 2024 For example, records detailing the receipt of fentanyl, ketamine, morphine, and Ambien at the White House’s pharmacy were handwritten, illegible, crossed-out, and error-filled, the report said. STAT+: Exclusive analysis of biopharma, health policy, and the life sciences. Brittany Trang, STAT, 23 Jan. 2024 The voter registry was audited too hastily, and poor-quality voter cards became illegible within days of their issuances. Mvemba Phezo Dizolele, Foreign Affairs, 19 Jan. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'illegible.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1580, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of illegible was in 1580

Dictionary Entries Near illegible

Cite this Entry

“Illegible.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


il·​leg·​i·​ble (ˈ)il-ˈ(l)ej-ə-bəl How to pronounce illegible (audio)
: impossible or very hard to read
illegible handwriting
illegibly adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on illegible

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