[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

Related Words for illegibly

obscurely, indistinctly, unintelligibly

Examples from the Web for illegibly

Historical Examples of illegibly

  • He glared pointedly at the number which was streaked, illegibly, with mud.

    "Persons Unknown"

    Virginia Tracy

  • Besides, most of the names were scrawled so illegibly, that some deceit was evidently intended.

  • What facts there are are rather like Mrs. Ellicott's handwriting—vague and crossed and illegibly hard to read.

    Young People's Pride

    Stephen Vincent Benet

  • These grievances, and much more, illegibly scrawled on foreign paper, with a quill pen.

    Mount Music

    E. Oe. Somerville and Martin Ross

  • Practice in misapplying all that you have learned, with a view to writing as illegibly and slowly as possible.

British Dictionary definitions for illegibly



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 illegibly



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper