il·​le·​git·​i·​mate | \ ˌi-li-ˈji-tə-mət \

Definition of illegitimate

1 : not recognized as lawful offspring specifically : born of parents not married to each other
2 : not rightly deduced or inferred : illogical
3 : departing from the regular : erratic
4a : not sanctioned by law : illegal
b : not authorized by good usage
c of a taxon : published but not in accordance with the rules of the relevant international code

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Other Words from illegitimate

illegitimately adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for illegitimate


baseborn, bastard, misbegotten, natural, spurious, supposititious, unfathered



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Examples of illegitimate in a Sentence

She thinks that my concerns are illegitimate. They were fired from their jobs for illegitimate reasons.

Recent Examples on the Web

The Venezuelan National Assembly declared the government of Nicolás Maduro as illegitimate last week, following an election last year widely denounced as fraudulent. Courtney Mcbride, WSJ, "Administration Taps Elliott Abrams as Envoy for Venezuela," 25 Jan. 2019 The key part of the deal calls for the Vatican to recognize the seven living illegitimate bishops and regularize their status in the church, while also arranging for two legitimate ones to step aside. Nicole Winfield, Fox News, "Pope acknowledges China bishop deal will cause suffering," 25 Sep. 2018 Money is speech, says our illegitimate Supreme Court, and so our representatives are mere mercenaries doing the bidding of their patrons. Jamshed Dastur,, "This is not who we are as Americans. Or is it?," 5 July 2018 But the Trump administration also wants to further isolate the socialist government of Maduro, who recently won a second term in an election condemned as illegitimate by the U.S. and other foreign governments. Washington Post, "Pence pledges support to Venezuelans until democracy returns," 28 June 2018 The latest round of sanctions comes after Maduro pushed through elections on May 20 that the E.U., the United States and more than a dozen Latin American nations denounced as being illegitimate. Jim Wyss, miamiherald, "European Union hits 11 more Venezuelans with sanctions," 25 June 2018 With much of the country deeming Mr. Maduro’s leadership illegitimate, the U.S., the European Union and a host of countries across the Americas have urged him to cede power to the National Assembly. Kejal Vyas, WSJ, "U.S. Considers Harshest Venezuela Sanctions Yet, on Oil," 14 Jan. 2019 By agreeing with the Irish court, and declaring the Polish court system to be in effect illegitimate, the ECJ exacerbated the EU’s widening east-west divide. The Economist, "Breaking point: December 2020," 5 July 2018 Denounced internationally as illegitimate, the election removed any real chance for change. Anthony Faiola And Rachelle Krygier,, "A historic exodus is leaving Venezuela without teachers, doctors and electricians," 4 June 2018

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

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First Known Use of illegitimate

1536, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

1 Feb 2019

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The first known use of illegitimate was in 1536

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English Language Learners Definition of illegitimate

: born to a father and mother who are not married
: not allowed according to rules or laws
: not reasonable or fair


il·​le·​git·​i·​mate | \ ˌi-li-ˈji-tə-mət \

Kids Definition of illegitimate

: not accepted by the law as rightful an illegitimate ruler


il·​le·​git·​i·​mate | \ ˌi-li-ˈji-tə-mət \

Legal Definition of illegitimate

1 : not recognized by the law as offspring specifically : born out of marriage

Note: An illegitimate child is usually legitimated by his or her parents' later marriage. Illegitimate children generally have the same inheritance rights under intestate successions as legitimate children; statutes limiting their inheritance rights have been found to violate the equal protection clause.

2 : not valid according to law

Other Words from illegitimate

illegitimate noun

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excited commotion or publicity

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