unlawful

adjective

un·​law·​ful ˌən-ˈlȯ-fəl How to pronounce unlawful (audio)
1
: not lawful : illegal
2
: not morally right or conventional
unlawfully adverb
unlawfulness 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 But a cease-fire alone is not enough to end deeply unlawful conduct. Marc Lynch, Foreign Affairs, 20 Feb. 2024 In 1992, a 28-year-old Hall was sentenced to 50 years in prison for second-degree murder, unlawful use of a handgun and wearing a handgun in the commission of the murder of 20-year-old Gerard Dorsey. Hannah Gaskill, Baltimore Sun, 14 Feb. 2024 The man has a history of charges in other states filed against him, police said, including unlawful imprisonment, assault under extreme emotional disturbances, wanton endangerment and burglary. Olivia Lloyd, Miami Herald, 13 Feb. 2024 California’s whistleblower law prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee because the employee disclosed information about employer activity the employee reasonably believed was unlawful. Dan Eaton, San Diego Union-Tribune, 12 Feb. 2024 All three are charged with second-degree murder, kidnapping and unlawful imprisonment. Kc Baker, Peoplemag, 12 Feb. 2024 The lawyers submitted another 115 articles as evidence of unlawful conduct, which could have necessitated two more expensive trials. Mark Landler, New York Times, 9 Feb. 2024 The Weiland family’s lawsuit accuses the city of Wisconsin Rapids and two officers of unlawful seizure in violation of their civil rights. Jennifer Rodriguez, Kansas City Star, 5 Feb. 2024 Trump's 2018 rule was ultimately declared unlawful. Camilo Montoya-Galvez, CBS News, 1 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'unlawful.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near unlawful

Cite this Entry

“Unlawful.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unlawful. Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

unlawful

adjective
un·​law·​ful ˌən-ˈlȯ-fəl How to pronounce unlawful (audio)
ˈən-
: not lawful : being against the law : illegal
unlawfully adverb
unlawfulness noun

Legal Definition

unlawful

adjective
un·​law·​ful
1
: not lawful : not authorized or justified by law
2
: acting contrary to or in defiance of the law
an unlawful possessor
unlawfully adverb
unlawfulness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on unlawful

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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