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 legitimate (audio) \ noun
legitimator \ li-​ˈji-​tə-​ˌmā-​tər How to pronounce legitimate (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 The concerns over costs are legitimate, said Mr. Lim, the IMO secretary-general. Costas Paris, WSJ, 4 June 2021 When Soviet bioweapons scientist Ken Alibek defected to the U.S., Patrick was brought in to determine whether Alibek’s claims were legitimate. Mark Kortepeter, Forbes, 2 June 2021 Evidence of cult-like devotion to Trump can be found in a recent Quinnipiac University poll that found that of 66% of Republicans believe the false claim that Joe Biden's election was not legitimate. Michael D'antonio, CNN, 31 May 2021 Spotify determines whether streams are legitimate, and has miffed BTS stans. Michael Ordoña, Los Angeles Times, 25 May 2021 There are probably six to eight teams with legitimate designs on grabbing the NCAA title. Steve Kroner, San Francisco Chronicle, 3 Mar. 2021 Instead, give your boss a call or stop by the HR office to confirm the request was legitimate. Kim Komando, USA TODAY, 20 May 2021 The oversight board has ruled that the original suspension was legitimate, but also that suspending him for an unspecified period is not. Star Tribune, 16 May 2021 Some ethics watchdogs said the majority of requests appeared at first glance to be legitimate, indicating that the House’s new, regimented rules may have prevented some of the clear missteps of the past. BostonGlobe.com, 14 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb His transition from prospective to legitimate frontline starter has allowed the Dodgers to thrive under particularly threatening circumstances. Dylan Hernández Columnist, Los Angeles Times, 24 May 2021 Sensitive technologies believed to be targeted to legitimate users and uses in the PRC are promptly forwarded to the military, whether their exporters know or not. Roslyn Layton, Forbes, 28 Apr. 2021 But the game’s willingness to build its sci-fi world on a foundation constructed with equal parts legitimate social commentary and pulp ridiculousness gives it a lively character that’s too often missing from modern video games. Reid Mccarter, Wired, 10 Apr. 2021 Simmons is a regular triple-double threat and Harris went from overpriced scapegoat to legitimate All-Star candidate averaging a career-best 20.2 points. Dan Gelston, ajc, 13 Mar. 2021 There have been authoritarian purges across several government departments, challenges to obviously legitimate vote tallies, and absurd claims of fraud. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 19 Nov. 2020 The battle has ultimately slowed benefits to legitimate claims — there were about 20,000 unpaid claimants as of Monday, according to the state's UIA. Adrienne Roberts, Detroit Free Press, 19 Feb. 2021 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, 20 Jan. 2021 This has led to legitimate fears that Indian Muslims will face discriminatory treatment. Suvrat Raju, Scientific American, 15 Jan. 2021

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

7 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Legitimate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/legitimate. Accessed 15 Jun. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

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 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

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Dog Breeds

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

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!