unlawful

unlawful
unlawful, illegal, illegitimate, illicit are comparable when they mean contrary to, prohibited by, or not in accordance with law or the law. Otherwise than this negation in character, the words in general carry the same differences in implications and connotations as the affirmative adjectives discriminated at LAWFUL. But there are a few recognizable differences.
Illegitimate tends to be more narrowly used than legitimate: its most common application is to children born out of wedlock or to a relation which leads to such a result
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the illegitimate son of the Duke

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their union was illegitimate

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but it is occasionally referred to something that is not proper according to the rules (as of logic) or to the authorities or to precedent
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your inference is illegitimate

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it is illegitimate to suppose a chasm between the brute facts of physical nature . . . and the most abstract principles— Alexander

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I am far from thinking, with some modern theoretic purists, that it is illegitimate in painting to play on the power of association— Binyon

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Illicit is used much more widely than illegitimate: it may imply a lack of conformity to the provisions of a law intended to regulate the performance, the carrying on, or the execution of something that comes under the law of state or of church
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illicit liquor traffic

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an illicit marriage according to the Church may still be a legal marriage from the point of view of the State

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but it is also applied to something that is obtained, done, or maintained unlawfully, illegally, or illegitimately
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most persons . . . have long believed that happiness, being as they suspect somehow illicit at best, must have its locus beyond ourselves, beyond this world— Edman

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the tradition that illicit love affairs are at once vicious and delightful— Shaw

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the . . . monk who loved Virgil had to study him with an illicit candle— Quiller-Couch

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Analogous words: iniquitous, nefarious, flagitious (see vicious)
Antonyms: lawful
Contrasted words: *due, rightful, condign

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • unlawful — un·law·ful adj 1: not lawful: not authorized or justified by law 2: acting contrary to or in defiance of the law an unlawful possessor un·law·ful·ly adv un·law·ful·ness n Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law …   Law dictionary

  • unlawful — UK US /ʌnˈlɔːfəl/ adjective LAW ► not allowed by law: »unlawful activity/conduct be unlawful for sb/sth to do sth »It is unlawful for any investment adviser to engage in fraudulent or manipulative practices. unlawfully /ʌnˈlɔːfəli/ US  / ˈlɑː /… …   Financial and business terms

  • unlawful — ► ADJECTIVE ▪ not conforming to or permitted by law or rules. DERIVATIVES unlawfully adverb unlawfulness noun. USAGE The adjectives unlawful and illegal can both mean ‘contrary to or forbidden by law’, but unlawful has a broader meaning ‘not… …   English terms dictionary

  • Unlawful — Un*law ful, a. Not lawful; contrary to law. {Un*law ful*ly}, adv. {Un*law ful*ness}, n. [1913 Webster] {Unlawful assembly}. (Law) See under {Assembly}. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • unlawful — c.1300, from UN (Cf. un ) (1) not + LAWFUL (Cf. lawful). Unlawful assembly is recorded in statutes from late 15c …   Etymology dictionary

  • unlawful — [adj] against the law actionable, banned, bootleg*, criminal, flagitious, forbidden, illegal, illegitimate, illicit, improper, iniquitous, lawless, nefarious, outlawed, prohibited, taboo, unauthorized, under the counter*, unlicensed, wrongful;… …   New thesaurus

  • unlawful — [unlô′fəl] adj. 1. against the law; illegal 2. against moral or ethical standards; immoral unlawfully adv. unlawfulness n …   English World dictionary

  • unlawful — That which is contrary to, prohibited, or unauthorized by law. That which is not lawful. The acting contrary to, or in defiance of the law; disobeying or disregarding the law. Term is equivalent to without excuse or justification. State v. Noble …   Black's law dictionary

  • unlawful — adj. unlawful to + inf. (it s unlawful to drive without a license) * * * [ʌn lɔːf(ə)l] unlawful to + inf. (it s unlawful to drive without a license) …   Combinatory dictionary

  • unlawful — un|law|ful [ ʌn lɔfl ] adjective LEGAL something that is unlawful is illegal, especially something that would be considered legal in a different situation: unlawful imprisonment The jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing. ╾ un|law|ful|ly… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

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