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illegal Line breaks: il|legal
Pronunciation: /ɪˈliːɡ(ə)l/

Definition of illegal in English:


Contrary to or forbidden by law, especially criminal law: illegal drugs
More example sentences
  • The report also raises concerns over the efforts to tackle illegal drug use in prison.
  • If it cannot protect them from drugs then it should protect them from illegal drugs and gangsters.
  • English law makes illegal a contract to indemnify a person in respect of liability for fraud.


derogatory , chiefly North American Back to top  
A person living in a country without official authorization.
Example sentences
  • Immigration officials say those illegals come from more than 100 countries.
  • Have a telephone tip line to report illegals to Immigration.
  • People who insist that all illegals be deported have an excellent point, and I think they're right.


Early 17th century: from French illégal or medieval Latin illegalis, from Latin in- 'not' + legalis 'according to the law'.


Illegal and unlawful have slightly different meanings, although they are often used interchangeably. Something that is illegal is against the law, whereas an unlawful act merely contravenes the rules that apply in a particular context. Thus handball in soccer is unlawful, but it is not illegal. A third word with a similar meaning is illicit: this tends to encompass things that are forbidden or disapproved of by custom or society, as in an illicit love affair.



Pronunciation: /ɪliːˈɡalɪti/
noun (plural illegalities)
Example sentences
  • I will just say that a member cannot suggest corruption or illegality.
  • How much corruption or illegality is required for an election result to be invalidated?
  • Two months later, New Zealand returned to the Court to argue strongly for the illegality of all nuclear weapons.


Example sentences
  • A company has been prosecuted for illegally dumping material it could not recycle.
  • Villagers were sabotaged by travellers illegally camping there last summer.
  • A house raid netted a huge amount of equipment used for illegally copying music CDs.

Words that rhyme with illegal

beagle, eagle, legal, paralegal, regal, spread eagle, viceregal

Definition of illegal in:

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