[ih-lej-uh-buh l]


not legible; impossible or hard to read or decipher because of poor handwriting, faded print, etc.: This letter is completely illegible.

Origin of illegible

First recorded in 1605–15; il-2 + legible
Related formsil·leg·i·bil·i·ty, il·leg·i·ble·ness, nounil·leg·i·bly, adverb
Can be confusedillegible illiterate unreadable Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for illegibility

Historical Examples of illegibility

  • Sometimes, owing to the illegibility of the writing, she has to study out sentences.

    The Arena


  • But there are other faults in writing besides ugliness and illegibility.

    Seeing and Hearing

    George W. E. Russell

  • There were traces of inscription on it, but eroded to illegibility.

  • The state license number was gone, and the serial number on the engine had been hammered into illegibility.

  • A kind of illegibility, though a different kind, stole over Mr Boffin's face.

    Our Mutual Friend

    Charles Dickens

British Dictionary definitions for illegibility



unable to be read or deciphered
Derived Formsillegibility or illegibleness, nounillegibly, adverb
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

Word Origin and History for illegibility



1630s, from assimilated form of in- (1) "not, opposite of" + legible. Related: Illegibly; illegibility.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper