un·​law·​ful | \ ˌən-ˈlȯ-fəl \

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 \ adverb
unlawfulness \ ˌən-​ˈlȯ-​fəl-​nəs \ 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

In August, the US District Court in Washington, DC, reasserted its April finding that the decision to end DACA, which benefits unauthorized immigrants brought to the US as children, was unlawful. Nadra Nittle, Vox, "Companies used to stay quiet about politics. In 2018, social causes became integral to their branding.," 17 Dec. 2018 Jose Macias, 27, has been charged with first-degree murder and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm in connection with the fatal shooting. Daniel Beekman, The Seattle Times, "Hoping to keep teens safe, Seattle to add hours at South Park Community Center," 6 Nov. 2018 Guillory received $450,000 and Chizer received $38,000 by unlawful means, according to court documents. Gabrielle Banks, Houston Chronicle, "Pearland men face sentencing for fraudulent bidding under guise that disabled veteran was majority owner of business," 12 July 2018 Burns is charged with DUI causing death; vehicular homicide and DUI unlawful blood alcohol level greater than .15. Linda Trischitta, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Man accused of drunken driving in deadly 2016 crash," 2 July 2018 McKeller was arrested and booked on charges of unlawful flight from law enforcement, reckless driving, exceeding 85 mph on a highway and failure to drive in one lane, officials said. Chris Coppola, azcentral, "Driver suspected of carrying migrants arrested after I-10 pursuit," 29 June 2018 The teen’s parents are being held in the Oldham County Detention Center on charges of unlawful possession of a meth precursor and endangering the welfare of a minor, reported WDRB. Jameelah Nasheed, Teen Vogue, "Kentucky State Police Say a Teen Got His Parents Busted for Allegedly Cooking Meth," 21 Sep. 2018 Crampton-Brophy reportedly appeared in court on charges of murder and unlawful use of a firearm. Nicole Darrah, Fox News, "Romance novelist accused of murdering husband reportedly wrote essay: 'How to Murder Your Husband'," 12 Sep. 2018 That, in part, led Banks to say the use of active-duty troops to defend against the caravan was unlawful on its own. Alex Ward, Vox, "The Pentagon is resisting Trump’s most controversial military requests for the border," 5 Nov. 2018

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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Statistics for unlawful

Last Updated

29 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for unlawful

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

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English Language Learners Definition of unlawful

formal : not allowed by the law


un·​law·​ful | \ ˌən-ˈlȯ-fəl \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on unlawful

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with unlawful

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for unlawful

Spanish Central: Translation of unlawful

Nglish: Translation of unlawful for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of unlawful for Arabic Speakers

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