follow Dictionary.com

Denotation vs. Connotation

illegal

[ih-lee-guh l] /ɪˈli gəl/
adjective
1.
forbidden by law or statute.
2.
contrary to or forbidden by official rules, regulations, etc.:
The referee ruled that it was an illegal forward pass.
noun
3.
Informal. illegal alien.
Origin of illegal
1620-1630
1620-30; < Medieval Latin illēgālis. See il-2, legal
Related forms
illegally, adverb
Can be confused
illegal, illicit (see synonym study at the current entry)
Synonyms
1. unlawful; illegitimate; illicit; unlicensed. Illegal, unlawful, illegitimate, illicit, criminal can all describe actions not in accord with law. Illegal refers most specifically to violations of statutes or, in organized athletics, codified rules: an illegal seizure of property; an illegal block (in football ). Unlawful means not sanctioned by or according to law: an unlawful claim to the inheritance; to take unlawful advantage of the trading situation. Illegitimate means lacking legal or traditional right or rights: an illegitimate child; illegitimate use of privileged knowledge. Illicit, which originally meant simply “not permitted,” now most often applies to matters regulated by law with specific emphasis on the way things are carried out: illicit conversion of property; an illicit attempt to control the market. Criminal most often refers to violation of the statutes of penal as opposed to civil law. All felonies are criminal as are all crimes sometimes punishable by death such as murder, arson, and kidnapping: a criminal act.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for illegal
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • And, generally, the advice of a consul is no justification of an illegal act.

    The Seaman's Friend Richard Henry Dana
  • They'll do their best to get him, and if they do there'll be trouble of an illegal nature.

    The Gentleman From Indiana Booth Tarkington
  • None of the States was thereafter to recognize in any of them a government which had been set up in an illegal fashion.

  • He had no wish to be discovered there—his entrance had been too irregular, too illegal, for that.

    The Film of Fear Arnold Fredericks
  • We need to resolve the status of the illegal immigrants who are already in our country without animosity and without amnesty.

British Dictionary definitions for illegal

illegal

/ɪˈliːɡəl/
adjective
1.
forbidden by law; unlawful; illicit
2.
unauthorized or prohibited by a code of official or accepted rules
noun
3.
a person who has entered or attempted to enter a country illegally
Derived Forms
illegally, adverb
illegality, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for illegal
adj.

1620s, from French illégal or directly from Medieval Latin illegalis, from assimilated form of in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + Latin legalis (see legal). Term illegal immigrant first recorded 1892 in American English (illegal immigration is from 1887).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for illegal

Most English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for illegal

8
12
Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for illegal