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

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

On May 20, Venezuelan President Maduro secured a new six-year term in an election that his opponents said was marred by fraud and which the international community, including Colombia, has called illegitimate. Jim Wyss, miamiherald, "'God save us from becoming Venezuela.' Colombians to vote in bitter presidential race | Miami Herald," 25 May 2018 Anarcho-capitalism, which is interested in self-ownership and free markets, is much rarer, and is considered by most anarchists to be illegitimate because of anarchism’s inherent opposition to capitalism. Kim Kelly, Teen Vogue, "Anarchy: What It Is and Why Pop Culture Loves It," 7 Sep. 2018 Half the country feels that the presidential election was illegitimate. Recode Staff, Recode, "Full transcript: Data for Democracy policy head Renée DiResta answers disinformation questions on Too Embarrassed to Ask," 14 July 2018 Giuliani said last week that the special counsel probe may be an ‘‘entirely illegitimate investigation’’ and need to be curtailed because, in his estimation, it was based on inappropriately obtained information from an informant and Comey’s memos. Jonathan Lemire,, "Giuliani says Trump and his legal team will fight any subpoena," 3 June 2018 In their telling, Falcón is only in the race to provide a veneer of legitimacy to an illegitimate election. Jim Wyss And Cody Weddle, miamiherald, "Venezuela's Maduro aims to turn empty stomachs into full ballot boxes | Miami Herald," 16 May 2018 The reelection of the country’s far-left president, Nicolás Maduro, on May 20—in a race deemed illegitimate by the opposition and many foreign governments—prompted the U.S. to broaden a ban on Americans buying Venezuelan debt. Christopher Alessi, WSJ, "Oil Edges Up Amid Supply Jitters in Iran, Venezuela," 7 June 2018 He had been born poor himself, in a camp outside the shabby ranching-and-mining town of La Libertad in Chontales province, the illegitimate son of a prospector and an Indian peasant woman. The Economist, "Obituary: Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo, the first cardinal from Central America," 23 June 2018 Lippi remained devoted to the woman and trained their illegitimate son in his own craft. Lee Siegel, WSJ, "A Portrait of the Artist as a Great Father," 15 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

6 Dec 2018

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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 \

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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to enclose within walls

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