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

Dane Henry, 23, of Roxbury, is charged with manslaughter, assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, a gun, and unlawful possession of a firearm, police said in a statement posted to its website. Sofia Saric, BostonGlobe.com, "Boston police arrest second man in Mattapan slaying," 9 Aug. 2019 In addition to the attempted assault charge, Nieves was charged with criminal possession of a firearm, unlawful discharge, reckless endangerment, weapons in a motor vehicle and criminal mischief. Christine Dempsey, courant.com, "Pair arrested after Sisson Avenue gunfire Wednesday, Hartford police say," 7 Aug. 2019 But in 1991, Quan landed in hot water again when he was convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm. Corky Siemaszko, NBC News, "Capital One hacker suspect threatened to 'shoot up' tech company and had access to assault rifles," 1 Aug. 2019 The roadway reopened around 10:30 p.m. The man was arrested on suspicion of various charges, including assault, robbery and unlawful possession of a firearm. Elise Takahama, The Seattle Times, "After Burien shootout with officers, man carjacked vehicle from drive-through, sheriff’s office says," 30 July 2019 The legislation signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo makes unlawful possession of marijuana a violation. Fox News, "New York reduces penalties for marijuana possession, expunges some convictions," 30 July 2019 The driver was found to have open warrants with the Houston Police Department and was in unlawful possession of criminal instruments. Houston Chronicle, "Bellaire Police Department weekly report," 29 July 2019 Webb faces one count of unlawful discharge of oil into the river, a violation of the Clean Water Act. oregonlive.com, "Union Pacific plant operator allowed thousands of gallons of oil to spill into Willamette River, feds say," 24 June 2019 The suspect, 31-year-old Chadd Smith, was arrested on suspicion of unlawful discharge of a firearm, Chandler police said. Rocky Baier, azcentral, "Chandler man arrested after gunshot report; he claims it was a 'Call of Duty' game," 24 June 2019

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

13 Aug 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 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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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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