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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.
Origin of legal
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. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for legally
  • He spent millions, over twice he was legally obligated to in his contract with the city, and finally had to give up.
  • These things are proved, the first critically, the second legally and historically.
  • Its decisions have been patiently waited for, and accepted as legally conclusive by the general judgment of the public.
  • The process of change is often informal, but even legally it is quite facile.
  • It is legally flawed, economically dangerous and unnecessary.
  • They should make a legally binding commitment to buy a vaccine, if and when one is invented.
  • It means deregulating labour markets so that jobs can be created cheaply but legally for the workers who want them.
  • Much free television can already be watched legally on computers and mobile phones.
  • The company was legally required to use original artwork rather than stock images, she says.
  • They have typically done so by redefining economic and social rights as fundamental and legally enforceable.
British Dictionary definitions for legally


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 legally



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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