legal

1 of 2

adjective

le·​gal ˈlē-gəl How to pronounce legal (audio)
1
: of or relating to law
She has many legal problems.
2
a
: deriving authority from or founded on law : de jure
a legal government
b
: having a formal status derived from law often without a basis in actual fact : titular
a corporation is a legal but not a real person
c
: established by law
especially : statutory
the legal test of mental capacity K. C. Masteller
3
: conforming to or permitted by law or established rules
The referee said it was a legal play.
Fishing in this lake is legal.
4
: recognized or made effective by a court of law as distinguished from a court of equity
5
: of, relating to, or having the characteristics of the profession of law or of one of its members
a bottle … that some legal friend had sent himJ. G. Cozzens
6
: created by the constructions of the law
A legal fiction is something assumed in law to be a fact regardless of the truth of that assumption.

legal

2 of 2

noun

: one that conforms to rules or the law
Choose the Right Synonym for legal

lawful, legal, legitimate, licit 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

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

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

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

Examples of legal in a Sentence

Adjective She has a lot of legal problems. Do you know your legal rights? The amount of alcohol in his blood exceeded the legal limit. What you did was not legal. “Is it legal to fish in this river?” “Yes, it's perfectly legal.” The referee said it was a legal play. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
The indictment alleges Trump reimbursed Cohen $130,000 for payments his ex-attorney made to Daniels, which prosecutors allege Trump concealed as legal payments. Alison Durkee, Forbes, 15 Feb. 2024 Simultaneously, streamlining legal immigration processes ensures efficiency and minimizes delays. Eleanor Dearman, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 15 Feb. 2024 Following the fatal accident, Grossman tested at or slightly below California’s legal alcohol limit, but investigators and criminalists have testified that she was impaired by a combination of alcohol and Valium. Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times, 15 Feb. 2024 Having cursorily read the document, Gelfand tells THR that the the new blueprint still doesn’t meet a key legal standard in presenting evidence that the existing uses on the sites listed are going to discontinue. Kevin Dolak, The Hollywood Reporter, 15 Feb. 2024 For American, the union and the negotiating team on both sides and their legal advisors will meet in Washington, D.C., on March 13, along with the Mediation Board. Vinod Sreeharsha, Miami Herald, 15 Feb. 2024 But states’ child safety efforts have faced numerous legal setbacks, with industry groups winning early legal challenges to halt laws that would otherwise impose stricter safety obligations on tech companies or require that parents sign off on their teens’ social media use. Cristiano Lima-Strong, Washington Post, 15 Feb. 2024 The excitement and scandal is wiped from the locale as viral TikToks tell everyone to go to this (not-so) hidden bar in Chelsea to consume very legal substances with men named Connor. Chloe Berger, Fortune, 3 Feb. 2024 Dillard Bassett has remained mum about the suit, refusing to discuss the legal matter when her RHOP costars brought it up during filming for season 8. Dave Quinn, Peoplemag, 3 Feb. 2024
Noun
The attempt to make the illicit legal against its own definition, by redefining it in more acceptable terms, is narrative violence. A.d. Carson, Spin, 26 Aug. 2023 The Justice Department has challenged Purdue’s deal with members of the Sackler family—and the popular legal... Akiko Matsuda, WSJ, 11 Aug. 2023 Financing, production and distribution legal handled by Eugene Pikulin at 3B Law. Angelique Jackson, Variety, 24 Feb. 2023 Truthful information disseminated by the news media about matters of public importance carry the highest legal of protection under the First Amendment. Erik Wemple, Washington Post, 21 June 2022 As a result, guns are banned in the area, even by those who have legal concealed carry permits. Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner, 16 Jan. 2020 Many of Florida’s marijuana dispensaries were not ready when Gov. Ron DeSantis made smokable medical marijuana legal in March. Marcia Heroux Pounds, sun-sentinel.com, 2 Dec. 2019 At the very end of the show, rapper Rico Nasty strutted out with a should-be-legal rolled piece of paper between her fingers. Nicole Phelps, Vogue, 12 Mar. 2019 American Media agreed to give Ms. McDougal back the rights to her story as part of an April legal settlement, but the company insisted that the Men’s Journal cover go forward as planned. WSJ, 27 June 2018 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'legal.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective and Noun

Anglo-French, from Latin legalis, from leg-, lex law

First Known Use

Adjective

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Noun

1923, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of legal was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near legal

Cite this Entry

“Legal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/legal. Accessed 23 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

legal

adjective
le·​gal
ˈlē-gəl
1
: of or relating to law or lawyers
2
: based on law
a legal right
3
: permitted by law or established rules
legally
-gə-lē
adverb

Legal Definition

legal

adjective
le·​gal ˈlē-gəl How to pronounce legal (audio)
1
: of or relating to law or the processes of law
a legal question
take legal action
2
a
: deriving authority from or founded on law
a legal tariff rate
a legal government
b
: fulfilling the requirements of law
a legal voter
c
: having a status derived from law : recognized as such by law
a legal certainty
d
: created by operation of especially statutory law
legal incompetence
a legal presumption
compare conventional sense 1, judicial sense 2
e
: established by law
the legal test for mental capacity
3
: conforming to or permitted by law : lawful
a referendum to make gambling legal
4
: recognized or made effective under principles of law as distinguished from principles of equity : deriving from or existing or valid in law as distinguished from equity see also equity compare equitable
5
a
: of, relating to, or having the characteristics of the profession of law or one of its members
a corporate legal department
the legal community
b
: of or relating to the study of law
continuing legal education
legally adverb
Etymology

Adjective

Latin legalis, from leg- lex law

More from Merriam-Webster on legal

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