right·​ful | \ ˈrīt-fəl \

Definition of rightful

2a : having a just or legally established claim : legitimate the rightful owner
b : held by right or just claim : legal rightful authority
3 : proper, fitting assured of his rightful place in history— Brian Duff

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from rightful

rightfully \ ˈrīt-​fə-​lē \ adverb
rightfulness noun

Examples of rightful in a Sentence

The property should be returned to its rightful owner. He will be given his rightful place in the history books.

Recent Examples on the Web

The practice helped prevent the rightful owners from discovering their addresses were being misappropriated. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "How 3ve’s BGP hijackers eluded the Internet—and made $29M," 21 Dec. 2018 Burrell said in Israel’s obituary that even though many of the original letters Israel had stolen were ultimately returned to their rightful places in libraries, some of her forgeries are probably still in circulation. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "5 fascinating stories about Lee Israel, the real person behind Can You Ever Forgive Me?," 19 Oct. 2018 Since Bogotá’s Chamber of Commerce launched the fair in 2005, the number of art galleries in Bogotá has tripled, cementing the city’s rightful place on the art world map. Michaela Trimble, Vogue, "Where to Go During ArtBo Bogotá, the Art Basel of Latin America," 18 Oct. 2018 Aquaman — aka Arthur Curry — is the son of a human lighthouse keeper and the Atlantean queen (Nicole Kidman), making him the rightful heir to the throne. Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge, "New extended Aquaman trailer shows off over five minutes of underwater action," 5 Oct. 2018 Now John is going to take his rightful place in a long line of extraordinary leaders in this nation's history. Megan Friedman, Town & Country, "Joe Biden Gave an Incredibly Powerful Speech at John McCain’s Memorial," 30 Aug. 2018 To reclaim his place as the rightful heir to the throne, a young shepherd must abandon his true love. Kathleen Dixon, SFChronicle.com, "Bay Area arts and entertainment highlights, week of July 15," 11 July 2018 Getty Images At five months old and as rightful heir of the Kylie Cosmetics dynasty, Stormi Webster is already living a life that the rest of us can only dream of. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Kylie Jenner Gives Fans a Tour of Daughter Stormi's $22k Designer Shoe Collection," 4 July 2018 Crooks can also take over targets’ cellular numbers by masquerading as the rightful owners. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Database leak exposes millions of two-factor codes and reset links sent by SMS," 16 Nov. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rightful.' 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 rightful

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about rightful

Statistics for rightful

Last Updated

3 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for rightful

The first known use of rightful was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for rightful



English Language Learners Definition of rightful

: according to the law
: proper or appropriate


right·​ful | \ ˈrīt-fəl \

Kids Definition of rightful

: lawful sense 2, proper … Grace had convinced herself that she was the rightful heir.— Ellen Raskin, The Westing Game

Other Words from rightful

rightfully \ -​fə-​lē \ adverb The money is rightfully his.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on rightful

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with rightful

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for rightful

Spanish Central: Translation of rightful

Nglish: Translation of rightful for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of rightful for Arabic Speakers

Comments on rightful

What made you want to look up rightful? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the perfect form or example of something

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What did you just call me?! A Quiz

  • rows-of-various-emoji
  • If a member of the audience describes your speech as bombastic, does that person mean it is:
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!