legitimate

adjective
le·​git·​i·​mate | \ li-ˈji-tə-mət How to pronounce legitimate (audio) \

Definition of legitimate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : lawfully begotten specifically : born in wedlock
b : having full filial rights and obligations by birth a legitimate child
2a : being exactly as intended or presented : neither spurious nor false a legitimate grievance a legitimate claim a legitimate practitioner " … we are pretty good at separating legitimate pain from drug-seeking behavior. … "— Kenneth W. Fogelberg also : being an actual example of something specified a legitimate threat to national security
b : genuinely good, impressive, or capable of success And if he can fix his start … he is a legitimate contender for gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.— Sean Ingle
3a : accordant with law or with established legal forms and requirements a legitimate government
b : ruling by or based on the strict principle of hereditary right a legitimate king
4 : conforming to recognized principles or accepted rules and standards a legitimate advertising expenditure a legitimate inference also : fair or reasonable : valid She raised some legitimate concerns.
5 : relating to plays acted by professional actors but not including revues, burlesque, or some forms of musical comedy the legitimate theater

legitimate

verb
le·​git·​i·​mate | \ li-ˈji-tə-ˌmāt How to pronounce legitimate (audio) \
legitimated; legitimating

Definition of legitimate (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to make (someone or something) legitimate (see legitimate entry 1):
a(1) : to give legal status or authorization to
(2) : to show or affirm to be justified
(3) : to lend authority or respectability to
b : to give (a child born out of wedlock) the same legal status as a child born in wedlock

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Other Words from legitimate

Verb

legitimation \ li-​ˌji-​tə-​ˈmā-​shən How to pronounce legitimate (audio) \ noun
legitimator \ li-​ˈji-​tə-​ˌmā-​tər How to pronounce legitimate (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for legitimate

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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Choose the Right Synonym for legitimate

Adjective

lawful, legal, legitimate, licit mean being in accordance with law. 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

Adjective Law books were getting thicker by the week with Supreme Court decisions barring legitimate claims because they weren't timely filed. — John Grisham, The Chamber, 1995 Even 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. 1993 He 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, 1818 legitimate means for achieving success the legitimate use of firearms There's no legitimate reason for prescribing this medication to a child. Verb Which comes first, the desire to legitimate euthanasia or the nullifying of a distinction between killing and allowing to die? — Daniel Callahan, Commonweal, 2 June 2000 Poland 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The report was first posted Monday by Yahoo News and verified to the Star Tribune on Tuesday as legitimate by a source who has seen the document. Paul Walsh, Star Tribune, "FBI alert reveals extremists prepping for violence at Minnesota State Capitol this weekend," 12 Jan. 2021 As expected, based on election returns confirmed as fair and legitimate by election and government officials from both parties nationwide, that gave Biden a 306 to 232 victory over Trump, handing Biden the White House. Eric Litke, USA TODAY, "Fact check: Wisconsin bill does not decertify results and give Trump the win," 6 Jan. 2021 Not a single court has found a single instance of fraud or any of this evidence seen as legitimate. NBC News, "Meet the Press - January 3, 2021," 3 Jan. 2021 But most of the technology comes across as legitimate, an evolution of existing systems. Ars Staff, Ars Technica, "TV Technica 2020: Our favorite shows and binges in a year of living distantly," 26 Dec. 2020 Several other cities on Saturday also saw gatherings of Trump supporters unwilling to accept Democrat Joe Biden's Electoral College and popular vote victory as legitimate. Bloomberg.com, "Violent Clashes in DC After Trump Backers' Election Protest," 15 Nov. 2020 Trump has not conceded the race, nor recognized the election as legitimate. Matt Egan And Chris Isidore, CNN, "A messy Trump-Biden transition will derail desperately needed stimulus," 11 Nov. 2020 Conservatives are more likely to see intuitive, direct experience as legitimate. Alexander Swan, The Conversation, "Conservatives value personal stories more than liberals do when evaluating scientific evidence," 9 Nov. 2020 Step One is making sure the election is seen as legitimate. Doyle Mcmanus Washington Columnist, Los Angeles Times, "Column: Legitimacy for our democracy was on the ballot," 4 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Instead, multiple outlets insist that the Capitol riots were a violent insurrection, while the social justice riots were mostly peaceful responses to legitimate grievances. Michael Lee, Washington Examiner, "Media continues to downplay impact of summer riots while condemning US Capitol siege," 20 Jan. 2021 This has led to legitimate fears that Indian Muslims will face discriminatory treatment. Suvrat Raju, Scientific American, "Scientists Weigh In on India's Citizenship Debate," 15 Jan. 2021 Yes, Heiskanen’s leap won’t be the same as Hintz and Gurianov, who transformed from AHL/NHL ‘tweeners to legitimate scoring threats in the NHL. Matthew Defranks, Dallas News, "Which Stars player is ready to make ‘the leap?’," 22 Dec. 2020 The current offensive line can’t block legitimate SEC defensive fronts. Christopher Smith, al, "Under bettors should cash again on Texas A&M-Auburn," 1 Dec. 2020 In other words, the U.N. was not intended to end power politics, but to legitimate it. Daniel Bessner, The New Republic, "America Has No Duty to Rule the World," 21 Oct. 2020 But even with Tom Brady and other big-name additions, are the Buccaneers legitimate Super Bowl contenders? Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY, "NFL midseason review: Alex Smith's comeback, Dak Prescott's injury among best, worsts of season so far," 11 Nov. 2020 What actually matters is covering the facts on the ground, calling out frivolous challenges to legitimate ballots, and resisting the temptation to spin. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "The Fate of American Democracy Is in the Hands of Cable News," 3 Nov. 2020 While fewer and farther between, legitimate absentee fraud is also reflected in the database. USA Today, "We analyzed a conservative foundation's catalog of absentee ballot fraud. It's not a 2020 election threat," 20 Oct. 2020

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

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First Known Use of legitimate

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3a

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for legitimate

Adjective and Verb

Middle English legitimat, from Medieval Latin legitimatus, past participle of legitimare to legitimate, from Latin legitimus legitimate, from leg-, lex law

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Time Traveler for legitimate

Time Traveler

The first known use of legitimate was in the 15th century

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Statistics for legitimate

Last Updated

19 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Legitimate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/legitimate. Accessed 2 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
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More Definitions for legitimate

legitimate

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of legitimate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: allowed according to rules or laws
: real, accepted, or official
: fair or reasonable

legitimate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of legitimate (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make (something) real, accepted, or official
: to show that (something or someone) is fair or reasonable

legitimate

adjective
le·​git·​i·​mate | \ li-ˈji-tə-mət How to pronounce legitimate (audio) \

Kids Definition of legitimate

1 : accepted by the law as rightful : lawful a legitimate heir
2 : being right or acceptable a legitimate excuse

Other Words from legitimate

legitimately adverb

legitimate

adjective
le·​git·​i·​mate | \ lə-ˈji-tə-mət How to pronounce legitimate (audio) \

Legal Definition of legitimate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : conceived or born of parents lawfully married to each other or having been made through legal procedure equal in status to one so conceived or born also : having rights and obligations under the law as the child of such birth
2 : being neither spurious nor false a legitimate grievance
3 : being in accordance with law or with established legal forms and requirements a legitimate government
4 : conforming to recognized principles or accepted rules and standards a legitimate claim of entitlement a legitimate business reason

Other Words from legitimate

legitimately adverb

legitimate

transitive verb
le·​git·​i·​mate | \ lə-ˈji-tə-ˌmāt How to pronounce legitimate (audio) \
legitimated; legitimating

Legal Definition of legitimate (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make legitimate: as
a : to give legal status or authorization to
b : to show or affirm to be justified or have merit
c : to put (an illegitimate child) in the state of a child born of married parents before the law by legal means — compare filiate

Other Words from legitimate

legitimation \ lə-​ˌji-​tə-​ˈmā-​shən How to pronounce legitimate (audio) \ noun

History and Etymology for legitimate

Adjective

Medieval Latin legitimatus, past participle of legitimare to give legal status to, from Latin legitimus legally sanctioned, from leg-, lex law

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