top of page
The Complete Vocabulary Builder Workbook



How to pronounce illegitimate (audio)

Dictionary definition of illegitimate

Lacking proper authorization, validity, or legality, often due to a lack of adherence to established rules, norms, or procedures.
"The actor was accused of fathering an illegitimate child with his mistress."

Detailed meaning of illegitimate

In legal context, it is used to describe a child born outside of wedlock, meaning a child whose parents are not married to each other. The term is used to describe a child who is not legally recognized as a member of a family, and may not have the same rights and benefits as a child born to married parents.

In political context, it is used to describe a government or a ruler that comes to power through illegitimate means such as a coup or an election that is not fair and free.

In business context, it is used to describe a company or an enterprise that operates outside the law, such as illegal activities or shady business practices.

In general, illegitimate implies that something is not in accordance with the law, or with accepted standards of morality, ethics, or authenticity. It can also have a negative connotation and implies a lack of legitimacy and credibility.

Example sentences containing illegitimate

1. The illegitimate child was never officially recognized by his father.
2. The court declared the document to be illegitimate due to forged signatures.
3. The politician faced allegations of accepting illegitimate campaign contributions.
4. The business deal was deemed illegitimate after evidence of fraud surfaced.
5. The illegitimate claim to the throne sparked a heated debate among royal historians.
6. The company's CEO was accused of engaging in illegitimate business practices.

History and etymology of illegitimate

The adjective 'illegitimate' has a notable etymology with roots in Latin. It is derived from the Latin word 'illegitimus,' which combines 'il-' (meaning 'not') and 'legitimus' (meaning 'lawful' or 'in accordance with the law'). In Latin, 'legitimus' referred to something that was lawful, legitimate, or conforming to established rules and norms. Over time, the prefix 'il-' was added to convey negation or negativeness. Thus, 'illegitimate' emerged to describe something that lacks proper authorization, validity, or legality, often due to a failure to adhere to established rules, norms, or procedures. This etymology reflects its historical connection to matters of legality and conformity, highlighting its role in denoting actions, circumstances, or entities that operate outside the bounds of established laws or norms.

Quiz: Find the meaning of illegitimate

Try Again!


Further usage examples of illegitimate

1. The unauthorized changes made to the contract rendered it illegitimate.
2. The illegitimate heir to the fortune fought a legal battle to prove his lineage.
3. The company's advertising campaign was criticized for making illegitimate claims about their product.
4. The committee unanimously rejected the proposal, deeming it illegitimate.
5. The illegitimate use of copyrighted material led to a lawsuit against the content creator.
6. The government crackdown aimed to eliminate illegitimate businesses operating in the area.
7. The illegitimate child faced discrimination and exclusion from his father's family.
8. The illegitimate transactions were uncovered during a financial audit.
9. The politician's promises turned out to be empty and illegitimate.
10. The artist was accused of selling illegitimate copies of famous paintings.
11. The illegitimate son struggled to find his place in a family that rejected him.
12. The illegitimate actions of the employee led to his termination from the company.
13. The court ruled that the marriage was illegitimate due to fraudulent documentation.
14. The illegitimate use of someone else's identity resulted in criminal charges.



unauthorized, legitimate, lawful, legal


ACT 6 (American College Testing), High School 18, Legal Terms and Concepts

bottom of page