un·​law·​ful | \ ˌən-ˈlȯ-fəl How to pronounce unlawful (audio) \

Definition of unlawful

1 : not lawful : illegal
2 : not morally right or conventional

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Other Words from unlawful

unlawfully \ ˌən-​ˈlȯ-​f(ə-​)lē How to pronounce unlawful (audio) \ adverb
unlawfulness \ ˌən-​ˈlȯ-​fəl-​nəs How to pronounce unlawful (audio) \ noun

Examples of unlawful in a Sentence

The sale of alcohol to minors is unlawful. it is unlawful to set off fireworks within the city limits
Recent Examples on the Web Two weeks ago, the court ruled immigrants who were once deported could be prosecuted for an unlawful entry, even if their original deportation was questionable. Los Angeles Times, 7 June 2021 Kelly was arrested in New York on Jan. 20 and faced charges of obstructing an official proceeding, aiding and abetting, violent entry and disorderly conduct, and unlawful entry to restricted buildings or grounds. Michael Kunzelman And Jacques Billeaud, Star Tribune, 2 June 2021 McHugh is charged with unlawful entry, disorderly conduct, obstruction of justice and assaulting an officer with a deadly weapon. Nora Mishanec, San Francisco Chronicle, 29 May 2021 The Justice Department says it’s arrested more than 400 people in connection with the Jan. 6 riots, with charges ranging from unlawful entry to more serious offenses like conspiracy and assaulting police. Joe Walsh, Forbes, 19 May 2021 Wickersham was arrested Tuesday and faces a charge of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and one for unlawful entry into a restricted area. Washington Post, 12 May 2021 According to court filings, an individual contacted the FBI on January 13, about a week after a violent mob stormed the Capitol, with information about someone who allegedly participated in the unlawful entry to the building. Caitlin O'kane, CBS News, 23 Apr. 2021 Fracker, charged with unlawful entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. Olivia Rubin, ABC News, 23 Apr. 2021 Both the Trump and Biden administrations sided against the immigrants in the case, arguing that because of their unlawful entry, Sanchez and Gonzalez are not eligible for the Immigration and Nationality Act’s adjustment-of-status procedure. Nicholas Rowan, Washington Examiner, 19 Apr. 2021

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for unlawful

Time Traveler

The first known use of unlawful was in the 14th century

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Statistics for unlawful

Last Updated

10 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

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

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More Definitions for unlawful



English Language Learners Definition of unlawful

formal : not allowed by the law


un·​law·​ful | \ ˌən-ˈlȯ-fəl How to pronounce unlawful (audio) \

Kids Definition of unlawful

: not lawful : illegal

Other Words from unlawful

unlawfully \ -​fə-​lē \ adverb



Legal Definition of unlawful

1 : not lawful : not authorized or justified by law
2 : acting contrary to or in defiance of the law an unlawful possessor

Other Words from unlawful

unlawfully adverb
unlawfulness noun


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