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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from legitimate

Verb

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

Synonyms & Antonyms for legitimate

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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 But now, thanks to technological advancements like self-balancing systems and powerful electric motors, the monowheel has gone from a fringe curiosity to a legitimate means of transportation. Boone Ashworth, Wired, "Seriously, It's Time to Lean Into Monowheels," 17 Jan. 2020 As a consequence of variances in coverage, Texas newspaper readers may form the perception that some protests are more legitimate than others. Danielle K. Kilgo, The Conversation, "What do we want? Unbiased reporting! When do we want it? During protests!," 16 Jan. 2020 Given this accounting, there will inevitably be a range of legitimate interpretations, and any translation will necessarily be a simplification subject to differences of individual opinion. Naomi Oreskes, Scientific American, "Don’t Fact-Check Scientific Judgment Calls," 13 Jan. 2020 Now Greta Gerwig’s excellent new film adaptation of Little Women has served up a a third, entirely legitimate reason to be anti-Bhaer, one that will resonate with anyone who’s ever dealt with a harsh teacher or a confusing performance review. Sarah Todd, Quartz at Work, "Want to give good feedback? Do the opposite of professor Bhaer in “Little Women”," 10 Jan. 2020 Religious groups bristled at the depiction, while creators of the pic have defended it as legitimate freedom of expression. John Hecht, The Hollywood Reporter, "Brazilian Judge Orders Netflix to Pull Controversial Gay Jesus Film," 9 Jan. 2020 Apple has strengthened the encryption in its phones, while Attorney General William Barr has renewed the push for backdoors and escalated complaints that encryption is hampering legitimate law enforcement investigations. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Unable to unlock gunman’s iPhones, the FBI (once again) asks for Apple’s help," 7 Jan. 2020 Last year, gadgets like Omron’s watch that measures blood pressure with an inflatable cuff led a movement toward gadgets as legitimate health aids. Popular Science, "Tech trends to expect at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show," 6 Jan. 2020 Their legitimate operations included car rentals and electronic stores in the northern city of Herat. Brett Murphy, USA Today, "Inside the U.S. military raid against its own security guards that left dozens of Afghan children dead," 30 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Colorado residents who have complained for years about health effects said the study’s findings legitimate their concerns. Bruce Finley, The Denver Post, "Colorado to tighten oversight of oil and gas sites near homes in wake of study finding possible short-term health effects," 17 Oct. 2019 Part of the explanation lies in Zevin’s sociology of élites, in which liberalism emerges as a self-legitimating ideology of a rich, powerful, and networked ruling class. Pankaj Mishra, The New Yorker, "Liberalism According to The Economist," 4 Nov. 2019 This both legitimates the content of some of these users’ tweets—this isn’t just some random account talking—and allows them to amplify and elevate narratives in distinctly old-fashioned ways. Nathaniel Friedman, The New Republic, "Moments Without Truth," 21 Oct. 2019 The church legitimated the colonial confiscation of lands occupied by indigenous peoples and its missionaries often suppressed indigenous cultures and religions. Vincent J. Miller, The Conversation, "Pope affirms Catholic Church’s duty to indigenous Amazonians hurt by climate change," 18 Oct. 2019 The White Man’s Burden,’ and a plethora of other work that sought to legitimate the British empir[e] … and dehumanise people of colour. Maya Jasanoff, The New Republic, "Rudyard Kipling, American Imperialist," 22 Aug. 2019 As a woman, Doris Lee’s participation legitimated the campaign. Melissa Hendrickson, Smithsonian, "How American Brewers Employed Fine Art to Sell Beer," 6 Aug. 2019 The ideologies and organization of the public schools are legitimated by the promise that America takes care of the poor and allows them to do better. Titus Techera, National Review, "A Teacher Confronts Reality," 26 June 2019 In other instances, however, China uses international institutions to legitimate its own interests. Elizabeth Economy, WSJ, "Xi Jinping’s Superpower Plans," 19 July 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 and Verb

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about legitimate

Time Traveler for legitimate

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for legitimate

Last Updated

24 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Legitimate.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/legitimates. Accessed 28 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for legitimate

legitimate

adjective
How to pronounce legitimate (audio)

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
How to pronounce legitimate (audio)

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 legitimation (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

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

showing steady, earnest care and effort

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Intact Latin Quiz

  • roman tablet
  • What did focus mean in Latin?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

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!