Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Money or property given to another by will.
  • noun Something handed down from an ancestor or a predecessor or from the past: synonym: heritage.
  • noun An individual who is either an applicant to an educational institution or a matriculated student and is the child of an alumna or alumnus.
  • adjective Retained under an obsolescent or discarded system, chiefly for purposes of reference.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To bequeath; assign as a legacy.
  • To leave a legacy to.
  • noun Money or other property left by will; a bequest; specifically, a gift of personalty by will as distinguished from a devise or gift of realty.
  • noun Anything bequeathed or handed down by an ancestor or a predecessor.
  • noun A business which one has received from another to execute; a commission; an errand.
  • noun Legation; embassy.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A gift of property by will, esp. of money or personal property; a bequest. Also Fig..
  • noun A business with which one is intrusted by another; a commission; -- obsolete, except in the phrases last legacy, dying legacy, and the like.
  • noun a tax paid to government on legacies.
  • noun one who flatters and courts any one for the sake of a legacy.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun law money or property bequeathed to someone in a will
  • noun Something inherited from a predecessor; a heritage
  • noun The descendant of an alumnus
  • adjective computing of a computer system that has been in service for many years and that a business still relies upon, even though it is becoming expensive or difficult to maintain
  • adjective left behind; old or no longer in active use

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun (law) a gift of personal property by will

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English legacie, office of a deputy, from Old French, from Medieval Latin lēgātia, from Latin lēgātus, past participle of lēgāre, to depute, bequeath; see leg- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French legacie, from Medieval Latin legatia, from Latin lēgātum, participle of lēgō.

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Examples

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  • "Word sleuths advise me that 'legacy' derives from an ancient Indo-Aryan root meaning 'it wasn't my fault, and I should still get a bonus this year even though we lost billions of dollars.'"

    -- The Peril Of Financial Linguistics, Newsweek, online March 28, 2009

    March 31, 2009