Etymology
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illegal (adj.)
1630s, from French illégal (14c.) or directly from Medieval Latin illegalis, from assimilated form of in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + Latin legalis (see legal). Term illegal immigrant first recorded 1892 in American English (illegal immigration is from 1887); used in British English in 1940s in reference to the Jewish movement to Palestine.
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illegality (n.)
quality of being illegal," 1630s, from illegal (adj.) + -ity; or else from French illegalité (14c.).
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unlawful (adj.)
"contrary to law, illegal," c. 1300, from un- (1) "not" + lawful. Unlawful assembly is recorded in statutes from late 15c. Related: Unlawfully. Old English had a noun unlagu ("unlaw") "illegal action, abuse of law."
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wetback (n.)
"illegal Mexican immigrant to the U.S.," c. 1924, from wet (adj.) + back (n.); from notion of wading the Rio Grande.
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lawless (adj.)
c. 1200, lawelese "uncontrolled by law of any kind," from law (n.) + -less. Meaning "illegal" is from c. 1300. Related: Lawlessly; lawlessness.
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bull-baiting (n.)
1570s, from bull (n.1) + baiting. The activity itself is at least from early 15c. in England; it was made illegal there in 1835.
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tortious (adj.)
late 14c., "wrongful, illegal," from Anglo-French torcious (14c.), from stem of torcion, literally "a twisting," from Late Latin tortionem (see torsion, and compare tort). Meaning "pertaining to a tort" is from 1540s.
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license (v.)

c. 1400, "grant formal authorization to do what would be illegal to do without it," from licence (n.), which see for the modern attempt at differentiation of spelling. Related: Licensed; Licensing.

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kickback (n.)
also kick-back, "mechanical reaction in an engine," from 1905 in various mechanical senses, from the verbal phrase (1895); see kick (v.) + back (adv.). By 1926 the verbal phrase was being used in a slang sense of "be forced to return pelf, pay back to victims," which was extended to illegal partial give-backs of government-set wages that were extorted from workers by employers. Hence the noun in the sense of "illegal or improper payment" (1932). The verbal phrase in the sense "make oneself comfortable, prepare to relax" is from 1975.
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