Origin of legal

1490–1500; < Latin lēgālis of the law, equivalent to lēg- (stem of lēx) law + -ālis -al1
Related formsle·gal·ly, adverbpost·le·gal, adjectivepre·le·gal, adjectivepseu·do·le·gal, adjectivequa·si-le·gal, adjectivequa·si-le·gal·ly, adverbun·le·gal, adjectiveun·le·gal·ly, adverbun·le·gal·ness, noun

Synonyms for legal

3. licit, legitimate, sanctioned. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for legally

Contemporary Examples of legally

Historical Examples of legally

  • She was legally a wife, and could only be separated from him through convicted shame.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • You see, he wanted to get my money illegally, but instead I managed to get his legally.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • He took no notice of me, and I got no assistance; perhaps I was legally entitled to none.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • Legally, we should have difficulty in getting at you, but it can be done.

    Roden's Corner

    Henry Seton Merriman

  • The father of Moses and Aaron married his father's sister, who was not legally his relation.

    The Truth About Woman

    C. Gasquoine Hartley

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 Formslegally, adverb

Word Origin for legal

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

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