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

lawful, legal, legit [slang], licit

Antonyms: Adjective

illegal, illegitimate, illicit, lawless, unlawful, wrongful

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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

These organizations bore Greek names and could seem legitimate to unsuspecting students. Chris Quintana, USA TODAY, "Secret frats, and what else to look out for during college fraternity rush," 5 Sep. 2019 Ultimately, 66 people made claims deemed legitimate by Healey’s office for a total of more than $15,000. Sean P. Murphy, BostonGlobe.com, "She was hit by an Amazon Flex driver — and left in the ditch by auto insurers," 18 Aug. 2019 Some investors are bringing legitimate business, hiring opportunities and advanced tech. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, "Vietnam Is Receiving Diverted U.S. Orders From China. That Doesn’t Mean It’s Winning the Trade War," 18 July 2019 Lawrence Livermore’s Hamilton said the crater study seemed legitimate and the food analysis corroborated his own findings. Susanne Rust, latimes.com, "Radioactivity in parts of the Marshall Islands is far higher than Chernobyl, study says," 15 July 2019 The contact person provides a realistic scope of work documents and non-disclosure agreements and also sets an itinerary that appears legitimate, according to the FBI. San Diego Union-Tribune, "FBI looking for victims of Indonesian entertainment-job scam," 15 July 2019 While most of those cases appear legitimate, there have been some recipients accused of fraud. Geoff Edgers, Washington Post, "A jazz legend said he was in desperate need of money. His friends had questions.," 11 July 2019 The statement goes on to explain that the callers have provided details aimed at making themselves seem legitimate. Zekriah Chaudhry, Twin Cities, "U.S. Marshals Service warns of call scams in Minnesota," 28 June 2019 Usually, the United States will sanction a head of state—such as Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi, and Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro—as a signal that the leader is no longer deemed legitimate. Robin Wright, The New Yorker, "Trump Sanctions Iran’s Supreme Leader, but to What End?," 25 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 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

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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Statistics for legitimate

Last Updated

19 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for legitimate

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

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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 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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authorized for issue (as a bond)

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