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Synonym Chooser

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

Some common synonyms of legitimate are lawful, legal, and licit. While all these words mean "being in accordance with law," 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

When is it sensible to use lawful instead of legitimate?

The synonyms lawful and legitimate are sometimes interchangeable, but lawful may apply to conformity with law of any sort (such as natural, divine, common, or canon).

the lawful sovereign

When can legal be used instead of legitimate?

While in some cases nearly identical to legitimate, 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 licit take the place of legitimate?

Although the words licit and legitimate have much in common, 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

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Cite this Entry

“Legitimate.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/legitimate. Accessed 10 Dec. 2023.

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