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[lee-guh l] /ˈli gəl/
permitted by law; lawful:
Such acts are not legal.
of or relating to law; connected with the law or its administration:
the legal profession.
appointed, established, or authorized by law; deriving authority from law.
recognized by law rather than by equity.
of, relating to, or characteristic of the profession of law or of lawyers:
a legal mind.
  1. of or relating to the Mosaic Law.
  2. of or relating to the doctrine that salvation is gained by good works rather than through free grace.
a person who acts in a legal manner or with legal authority.
an alien who has entered a country legally.
a person whose status is protected by law.
a fish or game animal, within specified size or weight limitations, that the law allows to be caught and kept during an appropriate season.
a foreigner who conducts espionage against a host country while working there in a legitimate capacity, often in the diplomatic service.
legals, authorized investments that may be made by fiduciaries, as savings banks or trustees.
1490-1500; < Latin lēgālis of the law, equivalent to lēg- (stem of lēx) law + -ālis -al1
Related forms
legally, adverb
postlegal, adjective
prelegal, adjective
pseudolegal, adjective
quasi-legal, adjective
quasi-legally, adverb
unlegal, adjective
unlegally, adverb
unlegalness, noun
3. licit, legitimate, sanctioned.

legal dictionary

a specialized dictionary covering terms used in the various branches of the legal profession, as civil law, criminal law, and corporate law. A comprehensive legal dictionary adds to its body of standard English entries many words and phrases that have made their way into modern legal practice from law French and Latin and are rarely found in a general English monolingual dictionary. Such a specialized dictionary is useful not only for law students and for attorneys themselves, but for members of the lay public who require legal services. Legal dictionaries published in print follow the normal practice of sorting entry terms alphabetically, while electronic dictionaries, such as the online Dictionary of Law on, allow direct, immediate access to a search term. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for legal
  • The world has outrun the courts, and legal technicalities have outlived their usefulness.
  • There is legal precedent that could work against the officers in this instance.
  • The legal business has undergone not only recession but also structural change.
  • He will definitely be trying to find personal loans to get legal advice if accusations of fraud are to continue.
  • What is legal is not necessarily what is moral or what is fair.
  • The legal tussle, which appears to be headed to trial, is getting ugly.
  • Such a rule might encourage employers not to hire at all, for fear of legal action.
  • Fossil collecting on private land, with the permission of the landowner, is legal.
  • Even though the company decided to print a date on the package, a judge dismissed the date as not having any legal worth.
  • Dear music industry: legal trickiness may help you win cases, buy plays out in a larger moral context outside the courtroom.
British Dictionary definitions for legal


established by or founded upon law; lawful
of or relating to law
recognized, enforceable, or having a remedy at law rather than in equity
relating to or characteristic of the profession of law
Derived Forms
legally, adverb
Word Origin
C16: from Latin lēgālis, from lēx law
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
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Word Origin and History for legal

mid-15c. "of or pertaining to the law," from Middle French légal or directly from Latin legalis "legal, pertaining to the law," from lex (genitive legis) "law," possibly related to legere "to gather," on notion of "a collection of rules" (see lecture (n.)).

Sense of "permitted by law" is from 1640s. Related: Legally. The Old French form was leial, loial (see leal, loyal). Legal tender is from 1740.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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legal in Technology

Loosely used to mean "in accordance with all the relevant rules", especially in connection with some set of constraints defined by software. "The older =+ alternate for += is no longer legal syntax in ANSI C." "This parser processes each line of legal input the moment it sees the trailing linefeed." Hackers often model their work as a sort of game played with the environment in which the objective is to maneuver through the thicket of "natural laws" to achieve a desired objective. Their use of "legal" is flavoured as much by this game-playing sense as by the more conventional one having to do with courts and lawyers. Compare language lawyer, legalese.
[Jargon File]

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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