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

Definition of unlawful

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

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 No one was injured, and the suspect, Joseph De La Cruz, 42, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, is charged with seven felony counts, including possession of a firearm by a felon and unlawful possession of ammunition. Stephanie Breijo, Los Angeles Times, 6 Aug. 2022 Four current and former Louisville police officers have been federally charged with civil rights violations, unlawful conspiracies, unconstitutional use of force and obstruction in relation to the deadly raid on the home of Breonna Taylor in 2020. Aj Willingham, CNN, 5 Aug. 2022 The Center for Individual Rights filed a federal lawsuit in August 2021, challenging the ban as an unlawful restriction of Mr. Rynearson’s right to free speech. Terence J. Pell, WSJ, 4 Aug. 2022 Warren has taken other actions that DeSantis criticized, including declining to prosecute 67 protesters arrested for unlawful assembly during the demonstrations over the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in 2020. Lori Rozsa, Washington Post, 4 Aug. 2022 The charges range from unlawful conspiracies, use of force and obstruction of justice, Mr. Garland said. Dylan Lovan, The Christian Science Monitor, 4 Aug. 2022 Athletes’ refusing to travel to Russia will hurt, as will other policy actions that the United States and the international community can take to punish Russia for this unlawful behavior. Stuart Anderson, Forbes, 4 Aug. 2022 The charges include civil rights offenses, unlawful conspiracies, unconstitutional use of force and obstruction offenses. ABC News, 4 Aug. 2022 In 1702, the General Court of Massachusetts declared the trials unlawful. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian Magazine, 3 Aug. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of unlawful

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

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Last Updated

9 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Unlawful.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unlawful. Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for unlawful


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

More from Merriam-Webster on unlawful

Nglish: Translation of unlawful for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of unlawful for Arabic Speakers


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