1. (noun) Political support based on the authority and power of public officials, public policy, and the political structure.

Example: Citizens supporting their government’s decision to go to war with another country.

2(noun) The rightful exercise of authority, force, and power by a person or group, particularly an institution that commands and demands obedience.

Example: Seat belt laws are legitimate because the police issue citations that are upheld by the courts, based on laws passed by the legislature.

Audio Pronunciation: (le·git·i·ma·cy)

Download Audio Pronunciation: legitimacy.mp3

Usage Notes:

  • Plural: legitimacies
  • A (noun) legitimator (verb) legitimizes or (verb) legitimatizes something through the process of (noun) legitimation or (noun) legitimization and provides (noun) legitimateness (adverb) legitimately.

Related Terms: 

Works Consulted

Abercrombie, Nicholas, Stephen Hill, and Bryan Turner. 2006. The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology. 5th ed. London: Penguin.

Jary, David, and Julia Jary. 2000. Collins Dictionary of Sociology. 3rd ed. Glasgow, Scotland: HarperCollins.

Kimmel, Michael S., and Amy Aronson. 2012. Sociology Now. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Kornblum, William. 2008. Sociology in a Changing World. 8th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Macmillan. (N.d.) Macmillan Dictionary. (https://www.macmillandictionary.com/).

Merriam-Webster. (N.d.) Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/).

Oxford University Press. (N.d.) Oxford Dictionaries. (https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/).

Scott, John, and Gordon Marshall. 2005. A Dictionary of Sociology. New York: Oxford University Press.

Turner, Bryan S., ed. 2006. The Cambridge Dictionary of Sociology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary. Wikimedia Foundation. (http://en.wiktionary.org).

How to Cite the Definition of Legitimacy

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “legitimacy.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved June 27, 2019 (http://sociologydictionary.org/legitimacy/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

legitimacy. (2014). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from http://sociologydictionary.org/legitimacy/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “legitimacy.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed June 27, 2019. http://sociologydictionary.org/legitimacy/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“legitimacy.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2014. Web. 27 Jun. 2019. <http://sociologydictionary.org/legitimacy/>.