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What is the opposite of “illegal”?

What is the antonym of “illegal”?

The antonyms of illegal are legal, lawful, and permissible. The antonyms legal, lawful, and permissible convey a positive or acceptable meaning. It implies that something is allowed, authorized, or within the bounds of the law.

Brief Definitions of the Antonym(s)

Learn when and how to use these words with these examples!


Permitted by law; authorized by the law.


The company's actions were completely legal and within the bounds of the law.


Conforming to, permitted by, or recognized by law or rules.


The police officer had the lawful right to search the suspect's car.


Allowed or permitted; within the bounds of what is acceptable or appropriate.


The use of cellphones is permissible in some areas of the hospital.

How are these antonyms different from each other?

  • 1Legal refers to something that is authorized by the law.
  • 2Lawful refers to something that conforms to the law or rules.
  • 3Permissible refers to something that is allowed or within the bounds of what is acceptable.

Good things to know

  • 1Legal Matters: Use legal and lawful when discussing legal matters such as contracts, agreements, and regulations.
  • 2Permission: Use permissible when discussing what is allowed or acceptable in certain situations.
  • 3Debate: Use these antonyms to argue for or against certain actions or behaviors.

Remember this!

The antonyms have distinct nuances: Legal refers to what is authorized by the law, lawful refers to what conforms to the law or rules, and permissible refers to what is allowed or acceptable. Use these words when discussing legal matters, permission, or debating certain actions or behaviors.

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