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 unlawfully (audio) \ adverb
unlawfulness \ ˌən-​ˈlȯ-​fəl-​nəs How to pronounce unlawfulness (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 Charges included disturbing the peace, unlawful assembly and failure to disperse. al, "St. Louis couple point guns at protesters marching to mayor’s house," 29 June 2020 The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit agreed with a coalition of border states and environmental groups that contended the money transfer was unlawful and that building the wall would pose environmental threats. Daisy Nguyen, BostonGlobe.com, "Appeals court: Trump wrongly diverted $2.5B for border wall," 26 June 2020 Her memo instead cited threadbare advice from then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the program was unlawful as its sole justification. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Trump’s Ineptitude Keeps Dream Alive for DACA Recipients," 18 June 2020 On Thursday, in a stunning and unexpected decision, the Justices ruled, 5–4, that the Trump Administration’s move was unlawful. Jonathan Blitzer, The New Yorker, "What the Supreme Court’s Surprise Decision on DACA Means for Hundreds of Thousands of Dreamers," 18 June 2020 The Supreme Court on Thursday delivered a blow to President Trump's immigration agenda, ruling the administration's attempt to dismantle an Obama-era program that protects young undocumented immigrants from deportation was unlawful. Melissa Quinn, CBS News, "Supreme Court blocks Trump effort to wind down DACA program," 18 June 2020 Another man, 27-year-old Jimmie Robinson, was also arrested for his alleged involvement with the case and was charged with burglary, armed criminal action, stealing, and unlawful possession of a firearm. Emma Colton, Washington Examiner, "Second man charged with murder of retired St. Louis police Capt. David Dorn," 15 June 2020 In a statement, the city's mayor condemned the move, saying destruction of city property is unlawful. Joe Sutton, CNN, "A charred Wendy's, an officer fired and a police chief steps down in the aftermath of Rayshard Brooks' death," 14 June 2020 Matthews and his brother sued the Norwood Police Department in federal court on Wednesday, saying Officer Jeff Stamm used excessive force and made unlawful arrests. Keith Bierygolick, Cincinnati.com, "Video shows Norwood police officer beat man with baton, officer sued for excessive force," 11 June 2020

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

3 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Unlawful.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unlawful. Accessed 11 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for unlawful


How to pronounce unlawful (audio)

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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