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
2a : 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
3 : not rightly deduced or inferred : illogical
4 : departing from the regular : erratic

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Other Words from illegitimate

illegitimately adverb

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 Trump has falsely claimed that widespread voter fraud cost him the election and has convinced many of his supporters that President-elect Joe Biden will be illegitimate. Chron, "Education head Betsy DeVos quits, cites Trump rhetoric," 7 Jan. 2021 Hawley’s move puts many other Republicans in the difficult position of having to buck Trump and risk the ire of his coalition, or back him and lend credence to the notion that the election is illegitimate. Gregory Korte,, "GOP senators keep distance from Hawley’s electoral challenge," 31 Dec. 2020 This includes 58% of voters in Davenport and 69% of voters in Des Moines, who would view her as illegitimate. Kerry Picket, Washington Examiner, "Iowa voters would view Hart as an illegitimate congresswoman if installed by House: Poll," 16 Dec. 2020 Democrats tried to color the confirmation process as an illegitimate power grab by Republicans, who had blockaded a Supreme Court nominee from President Barack Obama in 2016, citing the coming election that year. Nicholas Fandos, New York Times, "Over Democratic Fury, Republicans Push Barrett to Brink of Confirmation," 25 Oct. 2020 The election was declared illegitimate by the United States, the European Union, and the Organization of American States (OAS), which represents all countries in the Americas. Fox News, "When court packing goes wrong: Venezuela and other Latin American countries offer sobering reality," 15 Oct. 2020 To this explosive ideological cocktail has now been added Donald Trump's reckless lies about voter fraud rendering any outcome other than a victory for himself illegitimate. Damon Linker, TheWeek, "Democrats must bow to the Electoral College," 15 Sep. 2020 And if so, will the losing side concede, or declare the results illegitimate? Lee Drutman, The New Republic, "How Democracy Dies at the Ballot Box," 18 June 2020 Trump persuaded much of the Republican Party that the election was illegitimate. Evan Halper, Los Angeles Times, "Electoral college picks Biden, yet Trump’s bid to keep power could have lasting effect," 14 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for illegitimate

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The first known use of illegitimate was in 1536

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Statistics for illegitimate

Last Updated

16 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Illegitimate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for illegitimate


How to pronounce illegitimate (audio)

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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