lawful may apply to conformity with law of any sort (such as natural, divine, common, or canon).
the lawful sovereign
legal applies to what is sanctioned by law or in conformity with the law, especially as it is written or administered by the courts.
legal residents of the state
legitimate may apply to a legal right or status but also, in extended use, to a right or status supported by tradition, custom, or accepted standards.
a perfectly legitimate question about taxes
licit applies to a strict conformity to the provisions of the law and applies especially to what is regulated by law.
the licit use of drugs by doctors
Examples of legitimate in a Sentence
AdjectiveLaw books were getting thicker by the week with Supreme Court decisions barring legitimate claims because they weren't timely filed.—John Grisham, The Chamber, 1995Even in many courtrooms, where there is valid concern about the privacy of defendants, judges recognize that camera coverage serves a legitimate public interest.—New Republic, 22 Feb. 1993He was indeed already a legitimate child according to the law of Scotland, by the subsequent marriage of his parents.—Sir Walter Scott, The Heart of Mid-Lothian, 1818legitimate means for achieving success
the legitimate use of firearms
There's no legitimate reason for prescribing this medication to a child. VerbWhich comes first, the desire to legitimate euthanasia or the nullifying of a distinction between killing and allowing to die?—Daniel Callahan, Commonweal, 2 June 2000Poland has ceased being a nation with even a pretense of Communist rule, a rule that is legitimated by Marxist ideology.—Irving Kristol, Wall Street Journal, 11 Jan. 1982… they are more concerned with the ways in which schools and colleges legitimate and maintain inequality than with the ways they devalue and restrict personal autonomy.—Christopher Jencks, New York Times Book Review, 15 Feb. 1976
slang words legitimated by usage
Her tendency to be secretive only serves to legitimate their suspicions. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Maybe your only mistake has been to complain about this legitimate source of confidence.—Carolyn Hax, Washington Post, 24 Nov. 2023 According to court documents in San Diego federal court, similar groups operating locally have installed card skimmers, usually known as overlay skimmers, by installing a counterfeit faceplate over the top of a legitimate card reader.—Alex Riggins, San Diego Union-Tribune, 23 Nov. 2023 Related The skeptics have legitimate points, but skeptics also protested electronic instruments, drum machines, CDs, file sharing and programmed tracks.—Tom Roland, Billboard, 22 Nov. 2023 Candace Owens shouldn’t use the Bible as a shield against legitimate criticism of her commentary on Israel.—Dan McLaughlin, National Review, 22 Nov. 2023 How is that not a legitimate contribution to rock & roll?—Andy Greene, Rolling Stone, 19 Nov. 2023 This narrative is able to draw from public anxieties that are somewhat legitimate given the country’s turbulent history.—Maria Snegovaya, Foreign Affairs, 16 Nov. 2023 The turmoil at Hunter, which has an enrollment of 22,000 students, is part of the long-running campus debate over free speech, student safety and the limits of legitimate criticism of Israel, which has intensified during the Israel-Hamas war.—Jennifer Schuessler, New York Times, 16 Nov. 2023 His skewed teenage logic kicked in again, telling him to abandon any hope of a normal life or legitimate career.—Andy Greenberg, WIRED, 14 Nov. 2023
This would help send an additional $1 billion to legitimate artists on the platform, the company added.—Chloe Taylor, Fortune, 23 Nov. 2023 If your best penalty killer is your goalie, as the hockey cliche goes, that could be a problem for the Kings again and prevent them from making the leap to legitimate Cup contender.—Helene Elliott, Los Angeles Times, 11 Oct. 2023 In Bartel’s view, the Cold War ended because the Soviet system was simply unable to legitimate itself in an era of broken promises, whereas Western leaders were able to gain support for their austerity moves under the banner of neoliberalism.—Foreign Affairs, 28 Feb. 2023 In any event, whatever the exact explanation, those whose putative gains Blackstone invokes in order to legitimate its business–such as teachers, nurses and firefighters–are those who actually tend to get the rawest deal.—Brett Christophers, Time, 23 June 2023 As decades of scholars have pointed out, that same emphasis on individual consciousness made feminism susceptible to appropriation by opportunists, particularly the leaders, economists, and policymakers whose selective fulfillment of feminist demands helped legitimate their political project.—Dayna Tortorici, The New York Review of Books, 8 Oct. 2020 The broad views that German politicians tend to have, for instance—or most of them, anyway—about the relationship between Russia and the European Union have been completely upended, such that the status quo is very, very hard now to legitimate in any moral sense.—Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, 20 May 2022 The combination of Hinch's winning mindset, young players already thriving in the majors, prospects coming soon and premier players from the free-agent market should, in theory, push the Tigers to legitimate postseason contention, possibly as soon as 2022.—Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press, 5 Aug. 2021 Many of the hurdles to legitimate drug research stem from the Controlled Substances Act, signed into law in 1970 by President Richard Nixon.—Troy Farah, Discover Magazine, 22 Apr. 2019 See More
These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'legitimate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.
Adjective and Verb
Middle English legitimat, from Medieval Latin legitimatus, past participle of legitimare to legitimate, from Latin legitimus legitimate, from leg-, lex law