il·​le·​git·​i·​ma·​cy | \ ˌi-li-ˈji-tə-mə-sē How to pronounce illegitimacy (audio) \

Definition of illegitimacy

1 : the quality or state of being illegitimate

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for illegitimacy


bar sinister, bastardy, spuriousness



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of illegitimacy in a Sentence

she had learned of her illegitimacy while rummaging through old family records in the attic

Recent Examples on the Web

Voting does not create legitimacy, but not voting guarantees illegitimacy. Jennifer Victor, Vox, "What good are elections, anyway?," 30 Oct. 2018 But either way, the cloud of illegitimacy hanging over Kavanaugh’s head will be helpful in waking the public from its slumber. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation will delegitimize the Supreme Court — and that’s good," 5 Oct. 2018 Systems with elements of proportional representation, such as that sought by reformers of the electoral college or House districts, not only provide bulwarks against charges of illegitimacy. The Economist, "America’s electoral system gives the Republicans advantages over Democrats," 12 July 2018 Calderón, also facing charges of illegitimacy from the left, deployed Mexico’s federal forces en masse and captured and killed dozens of kingpins. Benjamin Lessing, Washington Post, "Brazil’s federal intervention in Rio’s drug wars has an authoritarian feel — and could backfire," 2 Mar. 2018 The wider disbelief morphed into anger and wild theories to explain or create the illegitimacy of the 45th president. Andrew Malcolm, San Francisco Chronicle, "GOP-leaning religious believers overlook Trump’s moral lapses," 26 Apr. 2018 The only real solution to structural illegitimacy that will adequately protect these immigrants is comprehensive reform with a path to citizenship. Helen Thorpe, New York Times, "Meet the Dreamers Who Walked 1,500 Miles to Stay in America," 4 Apr. 2018 Washington state’s chairwoman, Tina Podlodowski, said any system that leaves unpledged superdelegates in place would expose the 2020 nominee to charges of illegitimacy, fair or not. Washington Post, "Dems pledge to limit superdelegates, but don’t say how," 10 Mar. 2018 What if we were born today — when society allows unwed mothers greater latitude to choose to raise their children, when the stigma of illegitimacy has subsided? Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Like a generation of women, my unwed birth mother kept a lifelong secret: Me," 8 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'illegitimacy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of illegitimacy

1680, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about illegitimacy

Statistics for illegitimacy

Last Updated

20 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for illegitimacy

The first known use of illegitimacy was in 1680

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for illegitimacy


il·​le·​git·​i·​ma·​cy | \ ˌi-li-ˈji-tə-mə-sē How to pronounce illegitimacy (audio) \

Legal Definition of illegitimacy

: the quality or state of being illegitimate

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on illegitimacy

What made you want to look up illegitimacy? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a device or gadget

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!