legitimate

1 of 2

adjective

le·​git·​i·​mate li-ˈji-tə-mət How to pronounce legitimate (audio)
1
a
: lawfully begotten
specifically : born in wedlock
b
: having full filial rights and obligations by birth
a legitimate child
2
a
: 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
3
a
: 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

2 of 2

verb

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

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
legitimation noun
legitimator noun
Choose the Right Synonym for legitimate

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

Example Sentences

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
Second, an investigation of Hunter Biden is entirely legitimate, but should remain carefully focused. The Editors, National Review, 25 Nov. 2022 The key is to combine three elements: a focus on where violence is most concentrated; the balanced use of both rewards and punishments; and outreach to ensure that communities see anti-violence measures as fair and legitimate. Thomas Abt, WSJ, 25 Nov. 2022 McAvoy was called for a (more legitimate) trip on Montour. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, 23 Nov. 2022 Are the concerns about police using family trees legitimate or overblown? Stuart Miller, Los Angeles Times, 22 Nov. 2022 Tucker isn’t really concerned about tackling genuine public health challenges—there are, of course, legitimate, and very serious, issues with the American diet and sedentary lifestyle. Timothy Caulfield, Men's Health, 21 Nov. 2022 In June, the Utah Supreme Court ruled the port authority lawful and legitimate. Blake Apgar, The Salt Lake Tribune, 19 Oct. 2022 Then the campaign to make the idea real and legitimate was to go place by place. How To Save A Country, The New Republic, 6 Oct. 2022 The key is to identify sites that are legitimate and well intentioned. Scott Lafee, San Diego Union-Tribune, 4 Oct. 2022
Verb
Would any legitimate fraudster or mule do that and then report on themselves? CBS News, 23 Oct. 2022 Tennessee, however, has made the biggest and most difficult leap, going from the fringes of the Top 25 to legitimate national championship contender. Ralph D. Russo, Chicago Tribune, 19 Oct. 2022 Given this context, perhaps we Americans are envious that the British have something as historically sturdy as the divine right of kings to legitimate vast, hereditary, and permanent inequality and enshrine its maintenance as a civic virtue. Suzanne Schneider, The New Republic, 27 Sep. 2022 Frequent false positives exhaust security teams and may delay response to legitimate ransomware alerts. Etay Maor, Forbes, 1 July 2022 Twenty-six states also signed on to an amicus brief asserting that Proposition 12 is an offense to legitimate business interests. Matthew Scully, National Review, 11 July 2022 The first two are both two-time league MVPs, legitimate homegrown greats of the game. Andy Larsen, The Salt Lake Tribune, 2 July 2022 America’s counterproliferation diplomacy on Iran will need to be much more extensive, accompanied by far tougher economic sanctions and assistance to legitimate opposition groups to overthrow the ayatollahs. John Bolton, WSJ, 20 July 2022 Many of Biden’s critics urged him not to legitimate MBS by visiting Saudi Arabia last week. Michael Posner, Forbes, 18 July 2022 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective and Verb

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

First Known Use

Adjective

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

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near legitimate

Cite this Entry

“Legitimate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/legitimate. Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

legitimate 1 of 2

adjective

le·​git·​i·​mate li-ˈjit-ə-mət How to pronounce legitimate (audio)
1
: born of parents who are married
legitimate children
2
: lawful
a legitimate claim
3
: being in keeping with what is right or with standards
a legitimate excuse
legitimately adverb

legitimate

2 of 2

verb

le·​git·​i·​mate li-ˈjit-ə-ˌmāt How to pronounce legitimate (audio)
legitimated; legitimating
: to make lawful or legal
legitimation noun

Legal Definition

legitimate 1 of 2

adjective

le·​git·​i·​mate lə-ˈji-tə-mət How to pronounce legitimate (audio)
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
legitimately adverb

legitimate

2 of 2

transitive verb

le·​git·​i·​mate lə-ˈji-tə-ˌmāt How to pronounce legitimate (audio)
legitimated; legitimating
: 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
legitimation 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

More from Merriam-Webster on legitimate

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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