legitimate

legal, lawful, legitimate, licit
1. All four words share the basic meaning ‘conforming to the law’. Something is legal when it is authorized by the law of the land, legitimate when it conforms to custom or common justice, and lawful (a more old-fashioned word) when it conforms to moral or divine law. Legal is the only choice in the neutral descriptive meaning ‘relating to the law’ (as in legal language), and legitimate alone has the meaning ‘born of married parents’. Licit, which means much the same as lawful, is the least used of all these words, although illicit is somewhat more common. See also illegal.
2. For legitimate as a verb, see legitimate, legitimize.
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legitimate, legitimize
1. As a verb, legitimate is pronounced with the last syllable as -ayt and means ‘to make legitimate or legal’. It competes in both BrE and AmE with legitimize, which is the only form used in the meaning ‘to make (a child) legitimate’:

• My companion had up his sleeve something that would legitimate his employing my Christian name —J. I. M. Stewart, 1974

• You…forget the very people who legitimize your authority —Chinua Achebe, 1987

• This exhibition helps legitimize the last quarter century's most incontrovertible cultural phenomenon —Sunday Herald, 2000

• Citizens of the New World sought to legitimate young democratic nations by recalling a grander, classical past —C. Freeland, 2003

• She raised the present action [in 1827] that the defender, having been born a bastard in England, where the…subsequent marriage of the parents does not legitimize offspring, therefore should be held to be a bastard still —Times, 2007.

2. For legitimate as an adjective, see legal.

Modern English usage. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • legitimate — le·git·i·mate 1 /lə ji tə mət/ adj [Medieval Latin legitimatus, past participle of legitimare to give legal status to, from Latin legitimus legally sanctioned, from leg , lex law] 1: conceived or born of parents lawfully married to each other or… …   Law dictionary

  • Legitimate — Le*git i*mate ( m[asl]t), a. [LL. legitimatus, p. p. of legitimare to legitimate, fr. L. legitimus legitimate. See {Legal}.] 1. Accordant with law or with established legal forms and requirements; lawful; as, legitimate government; legitimate… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Legitimate — Le*git i*mate ( m[=a]t), v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Legitimated} ( m[=a] t[e^]d); p. pr. & vb. n. {Legitimating} ( m[=a] t[i^]ng).] To make legitimate, lawful, or valid; esp., to put in the position or state of a legitimate person before the law, by… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • legitimate — [lə jit′əmət; ] for v. [, lə jit′əmāt΄] adj. [ML legitimatus, pp. of legitimare, to make lawful < L legitimus, lawful < lex: see LEGAL] 1. conceived or born of parents legally married to each other 2. a) sanctioned by law or custom; lawful… …   English World dictionary

  • legitimate — ► ADJECTIVE 1) conforming to the law or to rules. 2) able to be defended with logic or justification: a legitimate excuse. 3) (of a child) born of parents lawfully married to each other. 4) (of a sovereign) having a title based on strict… …   English terms dictionary

  • legitimate — legal, *lawful, licit Analogous words: justified or justifiable, warranted or warrantable (see corresponding verbs at JUSTIFY): *valid, sound, cogent: recognized, acknowledged (see ACKNOWLEDGE): customary, *usual: * …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • legitimate — [adj] authentic, valid, legal accepted, accredited, acknowledged, admissible, appropriate, authorized, canonical, certain, cogent, consistent, correct, customary, fair, genuine, innocent, just, justifiable, lawful, licit, logical, natural, normal …   New thesaurus

  • legitimate — I. adjective Etymology: Middle English legitimat, from Medieval Latin legitimatus, past participle of legitimare to legitimate, from Latin legitimus legitimate, from leg , lex law Date: 15th century 1. a. lawfully begotten; specifically born in… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • legitimate — legitimately, adv. legitimateness, n. legitimation, n. adj., n. /li jit euh mit/; v. /li jit euh mayt /, adj., v., legitimated, legitimating, n. adj. 1. according to law; lawful: the property s legitimate owner …   Universalium

  • legitimate — Used in the context of general equities. Real interest in trading as compared to a profile stance. Bloomberg Financial Dictionary See: natural. Bloomberg Financial Dictionary * * * ▪ I. legitimate le‧git‧i‧mate 1 [lɪˈdʒɪtmt] adjective 1. LAW… …   Financial and business terms

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