le·​git·​i·​ma·​cy | \li-ˈji-tə-mə-sē \

Definition of legitimacy 

: the quality or state of being legitimate

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for legitimacy


lawfulness, legality


illegality, illegitimacy, unlawfulness, wrongfulness

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of legitimacy in a Sentence

the legitimacy of the military dictatorship was not recognized by most other nations

Recent Examples on the Web

Another element to all of this is how bad actors work to gain legitimacy with press coverage. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "A military expert explains why social media is the new battlefield," 12 Oct. 2018 Xenophobic expressions of hatred against both Jews and Muslims have gained legitimacy with the rise of the ultra-nationalist party, Alternative for Germany (AFD), in the 2017 election. Fox News, "Anti-Semitism on the rise in Germany as Jewish business owners and students are targeted online," 2 Aug. 2018 For this to come that close to the centers of political power and political legitimacy was new. Lorraine Boissoneault, Smithsonian, "The True Story of “A Very English Scandal” and the Trials of a Closeted Gay Politician," 27 June 2018 Democracy can help him build a new base of legitimacy. The Economist, "How to ensure Muhammad bin Salman’s reforms succeed," 23 June 2018 On the other hand, turning to new rituals as stand-ins for ancient ones raises the tricky issue of legitimacy. Sigal Samuel, The Atlantic, "A Design Lab Is Making Rituals for Secular People," 7 May 2018 No alternative sources of legitimacy are anywhere on the horizon. Leon Aron, National Review, "Vladimir Putin’s Wartime Presidency," 16 Feb. 2018 Political systems depend on all sides believing in the legitimacy of outcomes. Ezra Klein, Vox, "The rigging of American politics," 16 Oct. 2018 The Times' report sparked online conversation about the legitimacy of #MeToo, prompting leaders and supporters to respond with statements that urged the public not to let allegations against Argento negate the movement at large. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "Asia Argento Responds to Sexual Assault Allegations, Calls Report "Absolutely False"," 21 Aug. 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of legitimacy

1625, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about legitimacy

Share legitimacy

Dictionary Entries near legitimacy








Statistics for legitimacy

Last Updated

27 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for legitimacy

The first known use of legitimacy was in 1625

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for legitimacy


le·​git·​i·​ma·​cy | \li-ˈji-tə-mə-sē \

Legal Definition of legitimacy 

: the quality or state of being legitimate

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on legitimacy

What made you want to look up legitimacy? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


amusing and light sparring with words

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!