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

The reverend who leads the local church, locked in perpetual mourning after an accident took the lives of four local teens, instills that cutting edge dancing and music are unlawful. Karie Angell Luc, chicagotribune.com, "Wilmette's high energy 'Footloose' production shares message of empowering teens," 12 July 2018 Apple denies the claim that its closed ecosystem is an unlawful monopoly. Adi Robertson, The Verge, "What happens if Apple loses its Supreme Court App Store antitrust appeal?," 20 June 2018 This has led Multnomah County to argue in its lawsuit that the new grant guidelines are a backdoor way to end the program for political reasons, which is says are unlawful. Molly Harbarger, OregonLive.com, "Multnomah County sues Trump administration over change to abstinence-only sex ed funding," 8 June 2018 Rachel Garland, an attorney with Community Legal Services, said what happened was unlawful. Julia Terruso, Philly.com, "Dozens ordered to leave West Philly apartments ahead of sale," 24 Apr. 2018 Nevertheless, if the city doesn't move to settle and the judge finds that the custom of aldermanic prerogative is unlawful, the case could have wide-ranging ramifications on planning and development in Chicago. Maya Dukmasova, Chicago Reader, "News / Housing Aldermen's absolute veto power over ward projects gets unlikely court challenge," 16 Apr. 2018 Saucier was arrested in May 2015 on charges of unlawful retention of national defense information. Nicholas Rondinone, courant.com, "In Lawsuit Citing Clinton Email Probe, Groton Sailor Pardoned By Trump Seeks $20M In Damages," 13 July 2018 Police are seeking Walden on suspicion of identity theft and unlawful taking or driving of a vehicle, police reported. Don Sweeney, sacbee, "Identity theft derails when man poses with ‘his’ new pickup truck, police say," 12 July 2018 The Afghan government expects the gathering to term the Taliban insurgency and use of suicide attacks in Afghanistan as unlawful, like similar such meetings have recently in Kabul and in Jakarta. Sayed Salahuddin, BostonGlobe.com, "Fresh violence kills over 15 in Afghanistan as Islamic scholars debate Taliban war," 11 July 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

10 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for unlawful

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

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More Definitions for unlawful



English Language Learners Definition of unlawful

: 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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Comments on unlawful

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