law·​less | \ ˈlȯ-ləs How to pronounce lawless (audio) \

Definition of lawless

1 : not regulated by or based on law
2a : not restrained or controlled by law : unruly
b : illegal

Other Words from lawless

lawlessly adverb
lawlessness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for lawless



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Examples of lawless in a Sentence

the lawless society of the frontier the lawless rioters were destroying everything in sight
Recent Examples on the Web Footage of gun-toting Koreans on rooftops transposed with images of Black youth firebombing businesses with Molotov cocktails painted a picture of a conflict — with Black residents considered lawless and Korean merchants, mercenary. NBC News, 29 Apr. 2022 Both governments are known for lawless behavior, duplicity, bullying, domestic oppression, coercive economic practices, and grave human rights abuses. Keith Krach, Fortune, 27 Apr. 2022 The impact of having someone in the White House who conducts himself like a mob boss cannot be overstated in terms of legitimating lawless behavior, as well as extremist and racist beliefs. Ruth Ben-ghiat, The New Republic, 15 Apr. 2022 President Biden must end his lawless border policies that are fueling the crisis. Kelly Laco, Fox News, 13 Apr. 2022 The lawless, racist acts of violence occurred around the nation and became especially pervasive in the Deep South after the Civil War. Los Angeles Times, 29 Mar. 2022 Corruption and radicalization are processes, and authoritarian states have long known how to accelerate them by making government a refuge for those who don’t have to learn to be lawless. Ruth Ben-ghiat, The New Republic, 15 Apr. 2022 While lynching is most commonly associated with hanging, the term covers a much broader scope of lawless mob violence and executions. Los Angeles Times, 29 Mar. 2022 The Everglades City area was so lawless in the recent past that bales of cocaine and marijuana were alleged to have regularly washed up on the shore. Outside Online, 13 May 2019 See More

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

First Known Use of lawless

12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of lawless was in the 12th century

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Dictionary Entries Near lawless

law Latin



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Statistics for lawless

Last Updated

3 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Lawless.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for lawless


law·​less | \ ˈlȯ-ləs How to pronounce lawless (audio) \

Kids Definition of lawless

1 : having no laws : not based on or controlled by law a lawless frontier town
2 : uncontrolled by law : unruly a lawless mob

Other Words from lawless

lawlessness noun



Legal Definition of lawless

1 : not restrained or controlled by law
2 : illegal a lawless act

Other Words from lawless

lawlessly adverb
lawlessness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on lawless

Nglish: Translation of lawless for Spanish Speakers


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