il·​le·​git·​i·​mate | \ ˌi-li-ˈji-tə-mət How to pronounce illegitimate (audio) \

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

As one of the illegitimate sons of King Aegon IV Targaryen, Bittersteel created the now infamous battalion of sellswords in an attempt to usurp the throne. Ineye Komonibo, Marie Claire, "Will the Golden Company Betray Cersei Lannister and Determine Westeros' Ruler?," 30 Apr. 2019 Republicanvoters would be primed to accept a Trump claim that the elections are illegitimate. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "The Republican Party versus democracy," 17 Dec. 2018 What is happening in Italy is a coup d’état, a holdup of the Italian people by illegitimate institutions. Marcus Walker, WSJ, "Italy’s Political Drama Raises Stakes for Euro," 28 May 2018 Not only does their daughter travel through time to find them, Jamie is visited by his illegitimate son, Willie, who’s unaware of who Jamie really is. Outlander Fan, Marie Claire, "How Outlander Season 4 Is Different From Outlander, Book 4, 'Drums Of Autumn'," 29 Jan. 2019 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

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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Statistics for illegitimate

Last Updated

7 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for illegitimate

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 How to pronounce illegitimate (audio) \

Kids Definition of illegitimate

: not accepted by the law as rightful an illegitimate ruler


il·​le·​git·​i·​mate | \ ˌi-li-ˈji-tə-mət How to pronounce illegitimate (audio) \

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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Comments on illegitimate

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


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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