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A person who by virtue of attaining a certain age, generally eighteen, is regarded in the eyes of the law as being able to manage his or her own affairs.

The age specified by law, called the legal age of majority, indicates that a person acquires full legal capacity to be bound by various documents, such as contracts and deeds, that he or she makes with others and to commit other legal acts such as voting in elections and entering marriage. The age at which a person becomes an adult varies from state to state and often varies within a state, depending upon the nature of the action taken by the person. Thus, a person wishing to obtain a license to operate a motor vehicle may be considered an adult at age sixteen, but may not reach adulthood until age eighteen for purposes of marriage, or age twenty-one for purposes of purchasing intoxicating liquors.

Anyone who has not reached the age of adulthood is legally considered an infant.


noun adultus, elder, fully developed person, fully grown person, grown-up person, mature person, one who has attained legal majority, person of age, person of voting age, pubes, senior
Associated concepts: adult male, adult person, adult woman, age of majority
See also: ripe


a person who has attained the age of legal majority.

ADULT, in the civil law. An infant who, if a boy, has attained his full age of fourteen years, and if a girl, her full age of twelve. Domat, Liv. Prel. t. 2, s. 2, n. 8. In the common law an adult is considered one of full age. 1 Swanst. R. 553.

References in periodicals archive ?
A total of 2,864 participants in the studies underwent serial spirometry beginning in early adulthood and continuing through approximately 22 years of follow-up.
Although a substantial proportion of self-harm was noted in adolescents, the frequency of self-harm reduced in early adulthood.
Type 3: Age of onset from 18 months to early adulthood.
Association of body mass index in early adulthood and middle age with future site-specific cancer mortality: The Harvard Alumni Health Study.
His latest book, The Isle of Monte Cristo, is part memoir of his encounters with college students (who, if nothing else, keep him from waxing too metaphysical) and part reminiscence of his early adulthood.
Specialized face processing in the brain may require an extended period of visual tuning during early adulthood to help individuals learn and recognize lots of different faces," Germine says.
These data provide evidence that adiposity in mid-life is strongly related to a reduced probability of healthy survival among women who live to older ages, and emphasise the importance of maintaining a healthy weight from early adulthood.
It affects about one person in 100 and usually strikes in late adolescence or early adulthood.
Today's parents are far more likely to be paying for their children into early adulthood than their own parents were, with 50 per cent of 41 to 50 year-olds saying they never asked their parents for any financial help.
Nightmares increase through the first decade of life and diminish from adolescence to early adulthood.
As an Austrian who grew up under Nazi rule and witnessed the unmasking of government-sanctioned genocide in her early adulthood, Bachmann dispatches from a society and culture in ruins with both compassion and art.