• IPA: /ɪlɪˈdʒɪtɪmət/
  • (GA) IPA: [ɪlɨˈd͡ʒɪɾəmɨt]
  • (New Zealand) IPA: /ɘlɘˈdʒɘtɘmɘt/


  1. Not conforming to known principles, or established or accepted rules or standards.
    Synonyms: invalid
    Antonyms: valid
    • 1792, Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, London: J. Johnson, Part 1, Chapter 2, p. 38,
      […] it may be impossible to convince them that the illegitimate power which they obtain, by degrading themselves, is a curse […]
    • 1927, J. B. S. Haldane, “Possible Worlds” in Possible Worlds and Other Essays, London: Chatto and Windus,
      The so-called interstellar space […] has not the properties of ordinary space. It will not conduct sound, nor can a human being move through it. It is therefore illegitimate to measure it in miles.
    • 2009, J. M. Coetzee, Summertime (novel), New York: Viking, “Martin,” p. 209,
      Our attitude was that, to put it briefly, our presence there [in South Africa] was legal but illegitimate. We had an abstract right to be there, a birthright, but the basis of that right was fraudulent. Our presence was grounded in a crime, namely colonial conquest, perpetuated by apartheid.
  2. Not in accordance with the law.
    Synonyms: illegal, illicit, unlawful
    Antonyms: legal
    • 1914, Theodore Dreiser, The Titan (novel), New York: John Lane, Chapter 54, p. 475,
      […] if things went on at this rate it would be doubtful soon whether ever again he would be able to win another election by methods legitimate or illegitimate.
  3. Not sanctioned by marriage.
    • 1783, Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, London: W. Strahan and T. Cadell, Volume 1, Chapter 8, p. 317,
      If we credit the scandal of the former [i.e. his enemies], Artaxerxes sprang from the illegitimate commerce of a tanner’s wife with a common soldier.
    • 1916, Abraham Brill (translator), Leonardo da Vinci, A Memory of His Childhood, New York: Moffat, Yard, Chapter 6, p. 118,
      His illegitimate birth deprived him of the influence of a father until perhaps his fifth year […]
    1. Born to unmarried parents.
      Synonyms: natural
      an illegitimate child
      • circa 1601 William Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida, Act V, Scene 7,
        I am a bastard begot, bastard instructed, bastard in mind, bastard in valour, in every thing illegitimate.
      • 1839, Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist, Chapter 51,
        ‘This child,’ said Mr. Brownlow, drawing Oliver to him, and laying his hand upon his head, ‘is your half-brother; the illegitimate son of your father […] ’
    2. (dated) Having a child or children with a person to whom one is not married.
      • 1876, George Eliot, Daniel Deronda, Book 3, Chapter 27,
        She had only to collect her memories, which proved to her that “anybody” regarded the illegitimate children as more rightfully to be looked shy on and deprived of social advantages than illegitimate fathers.
      • 1935, Carolyn Wells, The Beautiful Derelict, New York: Triangle Books, Chapter 13, p. 222,
        I heard last night that a what-do-you-call it?—claimant?—has arrived who says Pat Wayne is his illegitimate father.
  4. Not correctly deduced.
    Synonyms: illogical, invalid
    Antonyms: logical, valid
    an illegitimate inference
    • 1658, Kenelm Digby, A Late Discourse […] Touching the Cure of Wounds by the Powder of Sympathy, London: R. Lownes and T. Davies, p. 75,
      […] in natural things we must have recourse […] to experience. And all reasoning that is not supported so, ought to be repudiated, or at least suspected to be illegitimate.
    • 1734, George Berkeley, The Analyst, London: J. Tonson, Section 27, pp. 44-45,
      […] it is illegitimate to reduce an Equation, by subducting from one Side a Quantity when it is not to be destroyed, or when an equal Quantity is not subducted from the other Side of the Equation:
  5. Not authorized by good usage; not genuine.
    Synonyms: spurious
    an illegitimate word
  6. (botany) Involving the fertilization of pistils by stamens not of their own length, in heterogonously dimorphic and trimorphic flowers.
    illegitimate union; illegitimate fertilization
    • 1877, Charles Darwin, The Different Forms of Flowers on Plants of the Same Species, Chapter 1,
      […] the legitimate unions between the two forms of the above nine species of Primula are much more fertile than the illegitimate unions; although in the latter case pollen was always taken from a distinct plant of the same form.
Synonyms Antonyms Related terms

Translations Translations Translations Noun

illegitimate (plural illegitimates)

  1. A person born to unmarried parents.
    Synonyms: natural child, lovechild, bastard
    • 1966, Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea, New York: Norton, Part 2, p. 96,
      Her father and mine was a shameless man and of all his illegitimates I am the most unfortunate and poverty stricken.

illegitimate (illegitimates, present participle illegitimating; past and past participle illegitimated)

  1. (transitive) To make illegitimate.

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