English edit

Etymology edit

From Middle English legitimat, legytymat, from Medieval Latin lēgitimatus, perfect passive participle of Latin lēgitimō (make legal), from Latin lēgitimus (lawful), originally "fixed by law, in line with the law," from Latin lēx (law). Originally "lawfully begotten".

The verb was derived from the adjective by conversion.

Pronunciation edit

  • (adjective, noun) IPA(key): /lɪˈd͡ʒɪt.ɪ.mət/, /ləˈd͡ʒɪt.ɪ.mət/
    • (file)
  • (verb) IPA(key): /lɪˈd͡ʒɪt.ɪ.meɪt/, /ləˈd͡ʒɪt.ɪ.meɪt/
    • (file)

Adjective edit

legitimate (comparative more legitimate, superlative most legitimate)

  1. In accordance with the law or established legal forms and requirements.
    Synonyms: lawful, legal
    Antonym: illegitimate
    • 2011 October 1, Phil McNulty, “Everton 0 - 2 Liverpool”, in BBC Sport[1]:
      Rodwell was sent off by referee Martin Atkinson - who has shown 15 red cards since the start of last season - after 23 minutes for what appeared to be a legitimate challenge on Suarez.
    • 2020 February 5, Kevin Underhill, “Bag Marked "Bag Full of Drugs" Allegedly Full of Drugs”, in Lowering the Bar[2], archived from the original on 16 December 2022:
      According to the tweet, the encounter began with "a traffic stop for unlawful speed." If so, then the initial stop was legitimate, but in and of itself that wouldn't be probable cause to search the car. It does give an officer the right to look inside, and if contraband is in plain view, that would be probable cause. Here we don't know whether the bag full of drugs marked "BAG FULL OF DRUGS" was laying out in plain view, but it seems entirely possible.
  2. Conforming to known principles, or established or accepted rules or standards; valid.
    legitimate reasoning; a legitimate standard or method
  3. Authentic, real, genuine.
    Antonyms: illegitimate, false
    legitimate poems of Chaucer; legitimate inscriptions
    • 2020 December 20, Wen Sirui, “The Danger of One Voice from Mainstream Media”, in Minghui[3]:
      The truth is, when we fail to protect legitimate rights of others and continue to expand the net of lies and defamation, every one would become victims one day including ourselves.
  4. Lawfully begotten, i.e., born to a legally married couple (or otherwise legitimated subsequently). [from mid-14th c.]
    Synonym: rightful
    Antonym: illegitimate
  5. Relating to hereditary rights.
  6. Belonging or relating to the legitimate theater.

Derived terms edit

Translations edit

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Noun edit

legitimate (plural legitimates)

  1. A person born to a legally married couple.
    • 1831, Alexander Scott Withers, Chronicles of Border Warfare:
      But should a “holy alliance of legitimates” extinguish it, it will be but for a season.
    • 1898, Sydney George Fisher, The True Benjamin Franklin:
      This extraordinarily mixed family of legitimates and illegitimates seems to have maintained a certain kind of harmony.
    • 1830, William Hone, Pamphlets and Parodies on Political Subjects:
      His overweening pride received another shock through his new friends the legitimates.

Antonyms edit

Verb edit

legitimate (third-person singular simple present legitimates, present participle legitimating, simple past and past participle legitimated)

  1. (transitive) To make legitimate, lawful, or valid; especially, to put in the position or state of a legitimate person before the law, by legal means. [from 1590]

Usage notes edit

  • Forms of legitimize are about twice as common as forms of the verb legitimate in the US.
  • Forms of legitimate are somewhat more common than the forms of the verbs legitimize and legitimise (combined) in the UK.

Synonyms edit

Derived terms edit

Translations edit

References edit

Latin edit

Adjective edit


  1. vocative masculine singular of lēgitimātus

Spanish edit

Verb edit


  1. second-person singular voseo imperative of legitimar combined with te