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leg·​a·​cy ˈle-gə-sē How to pronounce legacy (audio)
plural legacies
: a gift by will especially of money or other personal property : bequest
She left us a legacy of a million dollars.
: something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past
the legacy of the ancient philosophers
The war left a legacy of pain and suffering.
: a candidate for membership in an organization (such as a school or fraternal order) who is given special status because of a familial relationship to a member
Legacies, or children of alumni, are three times more likely to be accepted to Harvard than other high school graduates with the same (sometimes better) scores …Michael Lind


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: of, relating to, or being a previous or outdated computer system
transfer the legacy data
a legacy system
: of, relating to, associated with, or carried over from an earlier time, technology, business, etc.
And it is about more than just TV—newspapers, magazines, radio, all the "legacy" media are feeling the earth move beneath them. Journalists look out and see thousands of empty campus TV lounges and newsprint-less recycling bins and millions of iPads and smart phones and they wonder what's coming next.Dante Chinni
Following ISG's takeover, 100,000 Bethlehem retirees and their dependents also lost their medical coverage, and they will get only a fraction of their original pension benefits. Avoiding those expenses, known as legacy costs, will save ISG more than $400 million a year.Nelson D. Schwartz

Did you know?

In its basic meaning, a legacy is a gift of money or other personal property that's granted by the terms of a will—often a substantial gift that needs to be properly managed. But the word is used much more broadly as well. So, for instance, much of Western civilization—law, philosophy, aesthetics— could be called the undying legacy of ancient Greece. And the rights and opportunities that women enjoy today are partly the legacy of the early suffragists and feminists.

Examples of legacy in a Sentence

Noun She left us a legacy of a million dollars. He left his children a legacy of love and respect. The war left a legacy of pain and suffering. Her artistic legacy lives on through her children.
Recent Examples on the Web
In the latest trailer for the pair’s upcoming Netflix documentary film, Kevin Hart & Chris Rock: Headliners Only, out Dec. 12, the pair discuss true friendship, family, and wanting their legacies to live forever. Larisha Paul, Rolling Stone, 30 Nov. 2023 With his passing Thursday morning at the age of 65, Variety looks at the most memorable moments of Shane MacGowan’s licentious legacy. A.d. Amorosi, Variety, 30 Nov. 2023 Initial Costs SMBs that use legacy payment systems may want to stick to their current rates. Jp Chauvet, Forbes, 30 Nov. 2023 Musée de Montmartre is a tribute to the neighborhood’s artistic legacy: Both Renoir and French painter Suzanne Valadon made their studios there at one point, and the museum’s lush gardens offer magnificent views of the city and Clos Montmartre vineyard. Sophie Dodd, Travel + Leisure, 29 Nov. 2023 Scream has always had interchangeable villains behind the mask, ensemble casts and certain legacy characters. Borys Kit, The Hollywood Reporter, 29 Nov. 2023 Young heartthrob with undeniable and flashy skills scores some early hits then struggles to define himself artistically in the face of (often inaccurate or overblown) popular stereotypes… maybe this all ends with Harlow pinch-hitting as a key member in a hip-hop legacy act. Eric Renner Brown, Billboard, 28 Nov. 2023 Now, that legacy is expanding with the opening of Babel Loft: a members-only co-work and lounge space set to redefine communal spaces in the borough. Cassandra Pintro, Vogue, 28 Nov. 2023 But Taiga Motors, a Canadian powersport vehicle company, wants to change that long legacy of aquatic nuisance. WIRED, 18 Nov. 2023
An analysis of Harvard admissions data, which became public through the court case, found that the acceptance rate for legacy applicants from 2010 to 2015 was 33.6 percent, about 5.7 times higher than the acceptance rate for non-legacy applicants. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 1 July 2023 Admissions experts frequently say that being a legacy is a kind of tie-breaker for a kid competing with an equally qualified non-legacy kid, the message being that only already qualified legacies get a leg up. Town & Country, 18 Jan. 2023 Of all the rest — indeed, all the non-legacy 400 — not a single one accumulated his or her fortune without the help of others, including what may be legions of employees, many of them laboring at minimum wage. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 16 Dec. 2022 According to findings from Gartner, by 2023, 30% of large enterprises will be using AIOps to monitor the non-legacy segments of their IT estates. Archana Jain, Forbes, 22 Oct. 2021 The donations boycott is designed to build on past anti-legacy efforts. BostonGlobe.com, 25 Sep. 2021 Legacy outdoor companies like Patagonia are selling food now, as are upstart outfits like Good to-Go, a Maine company that Jennifer Scism, 52, a chef and former partner at the acclaimed New York restaurant Annisa, started in 2014. Kim Severson, New York Times, 26 June 2017 Legacy coach Christopher Word isn’t at all surprised by Powers’ success. Shawn Smajstrla, star-telegram, 21 June 2017 Legacy students whose parents are alumni and who contribute a lot of money to the college? Gerald Bradshaw, Post-Tribune, 10 May 2017 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'legacy.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English legacie office of a legate, bequest, from Anglo-French or Medieval Latin; Anglo-French, office of a legate, from Medieval Latin legatia, from Latin legatus


from attributive use of legacy entry 1

First Known Use


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1984, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of legacy was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near legacy

Cite this Entry

“Legacy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/legacy. Accessed 5 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


plural legacies
: something left to a person by or as if by will

Legal Definition


leg·​a·​cy ˈle-gə-sē How to pronounce legacy (audio)
plural legacies
: a gift of property by will
specifically : a gift of personal property by will : bequest see also ademption compare devise
conjoint legacy
in the civil law of Louisiana : a legacy by a single disposition to more than one legatee or of indivisible property to more than one legatee
demonstrative legacy \ di-​ˈmän-​strə-​tiv-​ \
: a legacy payable from a designated fund or asset or from the general assets of the estate to the extent the specified fund or asset fails to satisfy the legacy
general legacy
: a legacy payable out of the general assets of the estate
legacy under a universal title
in the civil law of Louisiana : a legacy that consists of a specified proportion (as one-half), a specified type (as movables), or a specified proportion of a specified type of the testator's property
particular legacy
in the civil law of Louisiana : any legacy that is not a universal legacy or a legacy under a universal title

called also legacy under particular title

residuary legacy
: a legacy that consists of all of the testator's estate which has not been distributed through other legacies or charges upon the estate
specific legacy
: a legacy payable only from a specific fund or asset in the estate
universal legacy
in the civil law of Louisiana : a legacy by which a testator gives to one or more legatees all of his or her property at the time of death


Medieval Latin legatio, from Latin legare to bequeath

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