Synonym Chooser

How is the word lawful different from other adjectives like it?

Some common synonyms of lawful are legal, legitimate, and licit. While all these words mean "being in accordance with law," lawful may apply to conformity with law of any sort (such as natural, divine, common, or canon).

the lawful sovereign

When would legal be a good substitute for lawful?

The meanings of legal and lawful largely overlap; however, legal applies to what is sanctioned by law or in conformity with the law, especially as it is written or administered by the courts.

legal residents of the state

In what contexts can legitimate take the place of lawful?

The words legitimate and lawful can be used in similar contexts, but legitimate may apply to a legal right or status but also, in extended use, to a right or status supported by tradition, custom, or accepted standards.

a perfectly legitimate question about taxes

Where would licit be a reasonable alternative to lawful?

While in some cases nearly identical to lawful, licit applies to a strict conformity to the provisions of the law and applies especially to what is regulated by law.

the licit use of drugs by doctors

Thesaurus Entries Near lawful

Cite this Entry

“Lawful.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on lawful

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