The term “legal” comes from the Latin word “legalis,” which means “pertaining to the law.” This is derived from the Latin word “lex,” meaning “law.”

1. Proto-Indo-European (PIE)

The PIE root “*leg-” means “to gather” or “to collect,” which evolved to signify “to read” or “to choose.”

2. Latin

From the PIE root, the Latin word “lex” developed, meaning “law.” The adjective form “legalis” was derived from “lex” and means “pertaining to the law.”

3. Old French (c. 9th to 14th century CE)

The Latin term “legalis” evolved into Old French “legal,” retaining the meaning of “pertaining to the law.”

4. Middle English (c. 11th to 15th century CE)

The Old French “legal” was adopted into Middle English as “legal,” retaining the meaning of “pertaining to the law.”

5. Modern English (from 15th century CE to present)

The term “legal” evolved into its current form and pronunciation, retaining the meaning of “related to or governed by the law.”

Phonetic Evolution

Over time, the pronunciation of “legal” has remained relatively stable from Old French to Modern English.

Usage Examples

  • “Legal is often used to describe something that is related to or governed by the law.”
  • “Another example of ‘legal’ in a sentence is ‘She sought legal advice before signing the contract.'”

Cultural or Historical Notes

The development of the word “legal” was significantly influenced by its use in various contexts, including law, governance, and social order. The term has been essential in describing the frameworks, principles, and processes that govern behavior and resolve disputes in society.

The word “legal” reflects the concept of law and governance, emphasizing the importance of rules, regulations, and legal systems in maintaining order, protecting rights, and ensuring justice. It underscores the role of legal frameworks in shaping societal norms, resolving conflicts, and upholding the principles of justice and fairness.