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 legitimation (audio) \ noun
legitimator \ li-​ˈji-​tə-​ˌmā-​tər How to pronounce legitimator (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 Maduro and Guaido have been locked in a constitutional crisis over who is the legitimate leader of the country after complaints regarding discrepancies with the 2018 presidential election. Naomi Lim, Washington Examiner, "Biden and Trump clash over Venezuela ahead of Trump Florida visit," 10 July 2020 But none of them can be dismissed as a legitimate threat, either. Nathan Baird, cleveland, "Ohio State football could face new threats in reworked Big Ten schedule: Buckeye Take," 11 July 2020 But some of its supporters never gave up—the Amendment has now hit that threshold, and is the subject of a lawsuit that will determine when the ’82 deadline was legitimate. Fortune, "It’s time to focus on the state of healthcare for Black women," 1 July 2020 Start putting these seals on it to show this is official, this is legitimate. National Geographic, "Episode 3: The United States v. One Tyrannosaurus Bataar," 30 June 2020 Driving is kind of an easy one, because that’s thought of as a legitimate reason to not be available. Joe Pinsker, The Atlantic, "What America Asks of Working Parents Is Impossible," 24 June 2020 Additionally, those who live in a household with a high-risk person, such as an elderly parent, also may have a legitimate reason to refuse to go back to work. Erin Douglas, HoustonChronicle.com, "Hundreds of thousands still waiting for unemployment checks in Texas," 18 June 2020 Additionally, those who live in a household with a high-risk person, such as an elderly parent, also may also have a legitimate reason to refuse to go back to work. Erin Douglas, Houston Chronicle, "New unemployment claims in Texas still 6 times higher than pre-shutdown," 18 June 2020 Trump and his lawyers argued that the subpoenas were part of a partisan effort to harass and undermine him, and thus fell outside the legitimate legislative purposes with which Congress can obtain information. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "The Supreme Court Brings the Presidency Back From a Lawless Brink," 9 July 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But as polished as this new package looks, the visual overhaul comes with three issues, which range from nitpicks to legitimate concerns. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Command & Conquer Remastered Collection," 5 June 2020 From the standpoint of technical solutions, this activity is indistinguishable from sending ordinary requests to legitimate image hosting services. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "An advanced and unconventional hack is targeting industrial firms," 30 May 2020 Now more than ever, the brand will lead its own rhythm, legitimating the value of time and connecting with people globally by getting closer to them in their own space and lives. Eliza Huber, refinery29.com, "Saint Laurent Will Forego Paris Fashion Week — Who’s Next?," 28 Apr. 2020 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

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

5 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Legitimate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/legitimate. Accessed 8 Aug. 2020.

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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

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