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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: of, relating to, or being a previous or outdated computer system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
Continuing the legacy Ironically, the store closed just months after recreational marijuana became legal in Ohio. Victoria Moorwood, The Enquirer, 9 July 2024 As the first binational winners, the two cities continue their legacy of collaboration, paving the way for more innovation in the area. Rachel Chang, Travel + Leisure, 9 July 2024
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 See all Example Sentences for legacy 

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 18 Jul. 2024.

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

More from Merriam-Webster on legacy

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