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

Jonathan Messare, 40, faces new charges of unlawful possession of a firearm after officers seized an AR-15, a shotgun, a semi-automatic handgun and a .38-caliber revolver from his residence, police said. oregonlive.com, "Man accused of stabbing police officer in SE Portland arrested again, months later, in Tillamook," 12 July 2019 Bowden had multiple prior arrests including theft, unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia and loitering. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al.com, "Gardendale man guilty in deadly baseball bat bludgeoning of girlfriend," 10 July 2019 Weapons Police charged a Houston man, 38, with unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon after a reckless driver was reported June 25 in the 700 block of West Parkwood Avenue. Jennifer James, Houston Chronicle, "Burglary suspect injured in crash after police pursuit," 3 July 2019 Both of these cases were dismissed for lack of probable cause, which means that the commission found insufficient evidence of unlawful discriminatory treatment. Emily Sweeney, BostonGlobe.com, "‘I was black, I was nobody, and I worked for security’: Guards at the MFA speak out," 29 June 2019 Authorities announced Monday that Meeks had been charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action, unlawful possession of a firearm and resisting arrest. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "A police officer was fatally shot. His ‘last moments’ were live-streamed on Facebook.," 25 June 2019 Marble also is being held on charges of evading arrest and unlawful possession of a firearm, as well as a parole violation. Tom Steele, Dallas News, "2 men charged with murder after man shot in Fort Worth home-invasion robbery dies," 20 June 2019 Other charges include unlawful use and possession of firearms, causing death through use of a firearm and perjury. Ray Sanchez, CNN, "New York man accused of murder-for-hire plot against his father and brother, prosecutor says," 19 June 2019 Anthony Zottola and Shelton were charged with a murder-for-hire conspiracy, unlawful use and possession of a firearm and causing death through use of a firearm. Doha Madani, NBC News, "Son of alleged mobster charged in McDonald's drive-thru hit on father," 18 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

16 Jul 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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