[rahyt-fuh l]
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  1. having a valid or just claim, as to some property or position; legitimate: the rightful owner of the farm.
  2. belonging or held by a valid or just claim: one's rightful property.
  3. equitable or just, as actions or a cause.
  4. proper; appropriate; fitting.

Origin of rightful

before 1150; Middle English; late Old English rihtful; see right (noun), -ful
Related formsright·ful·ly, adverbright·ful·ness, nounun·right·ful, adjectiveun·right·ful·ly, adverbun·right·ful·ness, noun
Can be confusedright righteous rightful (see usage note at right)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for rightful


  1. in accordance with what is right; proper or just
  2. (prenominal) having a legally or morally just claimthe rightful owner
  3. (prenominal) held by virtue of a legal or just claimmy rightful property
Derived Formsrightfully, adverbrightfulness, noun
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 rightful

Old English rihtful; see right (adj.1) + -ful. Related: Rightfully; rightfulness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper