legitimate

adjective
le·​git·​i·​mate | \li-ˈji-tə-mət \

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

2 : being exactly as purposed : neither spurious nor false a legitimate grievance a legitimate practitioner

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

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 \
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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from legitimate

Adjective

legitimately adverb

Verb

legitimation \ li-​ˌji-​tə-​ˈmā-​shən \ noun
legitimator \ li-​ˈji-​tə-​ˌmā-​tər \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for legitimate

Synonyms: Adjective

lawful, legal, legit [slang], licit

Antonyms: Adjective

illegal, illegitimate, illicit, lawless, unlawful, wrongful

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Some robocalls are legitimate—your pharmacy, your bank—but not the ones that change numbers constantly to appear local and avoid detection. Katherine Bindley, WSJ, "Why Are There So Many Robocalls? Here’s What You Can Do About Them," 4 July 2018 The only legitimate reason to doubt Pharoah couldn't finish it off was because it hadn't been done in nearly 40 years. Fletcher Page, The Courier-Journal, "Justify doesn't need popularity. He has the Triple Crown," 9 June 2018 Appearing in a regular-season game for Orlando at some point during the upcoming season now is a legitimate possibility. Josh Robbins, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Two-way contract recipient Troy Caupain moves toward NBA dream," 11 July 2018 Thomas has a legitimate shot at landing in the late first round if a team is sold on his defense and shooting. Jeremy Woo, SI.com, "2018 NBA Mock Draft 11.0: Trade Rumors and Final Picks for Both Rounds," 21 June 2018 McDonough said Phoenix would like to bring in up to seven such players for workouts, but ultimately the players’ agents will decide whether their clients have a legitimate shot to go No. 1. Scott Bordow, azcentral, "Phoenix Suns' GM Ryan McDonough says team likely keeping No. 1 pick in NBA draft," 25 May 2018 Good Magic, the Kentucky Derby runner-up, has the second-best odds of the eight participants and is considered the only other horse with a legitimate shot to beat Justify. Don Markus, baltimoresun.com, "Ahead of trainer Chad Brown's arrival, Good Magic gets head start on prep for Preakness," 15 May 2018 While Texas ranked high for infrastructure and economy, some areas the state did not do so well in raise legitimate concerns for the state's future. Francisca Ortega, Houston Chronicle, "CNBC ranks Texas No. 1 for business, but offers residents a few warnings," 11 July 2018 While Trump’s negotiating objectives are far from clear, the US, like Europe, has legitimate concerns about China’s lack of enforcement of intellectual property. Emily Stewart, Vox, "Can the US-China trade war be stopped? 11 experts weigh in.," 8 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The coupon follows similar format to legitimate Kroger coupons, with an expiration date of August 30 and a barcode. Holly Shively, ajc, "$250 Kroger coupon circulating on social media a fake; company warns don’t click on it," 9 July 2018 The Tigers impressive week to them from on the bubble of even making the tournament to legitimate contention for a No. 2 seed. Brody Miller, NOLA.com, "LSU's SEC Tournament run ends in championship loss to Ole Miss," 27 May 2018 Now, as the technology expands from a fringe hacker toy to legitimate business applications, opportunists have flooded the field. Erin Griffith, WIRED, "187 Things the Blockchain Is Supposed to Fix," 25 May 2018 At the moment, the pressing issue is how the Padres propose to jump from non-factor to legitimate contender. Dennis Lin, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Padres extend A.J. Preller through 2022," 3 Dec. 2017 By legitimating ethno-national passions, intellectuals created and unleashed them. William A. Galston, WSJ, "Macron’s Democratic Vision," 24 Apr. 2018 The North Korean ruler will get an early bonus just by meeting as an equal with Mr. Trump, which legitimates Mr. Kim’s rule. Robert B. Zoellick, WSJ, "10 Tips for Negotiating With Kim Jong Un," 27 Mar. 2018 Perhaps there should be apologies and reparative action from the publishers that printed, promoted, circulated, and profited from materials that served to legitimate Jim Crow and racist domestic terrorism. Alfred Brophy, Fortune, "Commentary: Why Haven’t Publishers Apologized for Their Books That Glorify Slavery?," 2 Feb. 2018 But such a failure would probably, nonetheless, help to legitimate his existing efforts to undermine liberal norms and consolidate his influence over federal law enforcement, at least to his fellow members of the Republican Party. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "The President Seems to Think a Second 9/11 Would Have Its Upsides," 30 Jan. 2018

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.

See More

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

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

Verb

see legitimate entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about legitimate

Share legitimate

Statistics for legitimate

Last Updated

31 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for legitimate

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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 \

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 \

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 \
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 \ 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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on legitimate

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

WORD OF THE DAY

obstinately defiant of authority

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Autumn Words of the Day 2018

  • a-top-down-image-of-road-through-an-autumn-forest
  • Which is a synonym of fugacious?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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