The word "legitimate" means that something is legally sound or accepted as legal.
  • There was some question as to whether or not the woman had a legitimate claim to an inheritance.

  • A judge ruled that the company had a legitimate complaint against the city.

  • Is this a legitimate organization, or are these people doing something illegal?

  • That's not a legitimate business.


A very common use for the word "legitimate" among Americans is in describing a situation as valid or real. In this case, the  word "legitimate" does not refer to a legal condition.

  • He has a legitimate reason to be angry.

  • Her concerns about playground safety are legitimate.

  • Is this legit? (The word "legitimate" is often shortened to "legit.")

  • She's legitimately angry about this situation. (She has a good reason to be angry. The word "legitimately" is an adverb.)


The word "legitimize" is a verb. To legitimize something is to make it legal or proper.

  • China disagrees with policies or pronouncements that would legitimize the existence of Taiwan as a sovereign country.

  • By refusing to condemn the man's outrageous behavior, other influential members of the organization have, in effect, legitimized the terrible things he has done.

  • The woman refused to legitimize the committee and ignored its demands.


The opposite of "legitimate" is "illegitimate." This word is often used to describe a situation in which a person does not have a legal claim to a title, or "illegitimate" refers to a child born outside of marriage.

  • Todd has two illegitimate children.

  • Philip of Cognac was an illegitimate son of King Richard.

  • The woman believed her son to be legitimate, but DNA evidence proved otherwise.

  • Many people regard Trump as an illegitimate President.



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