Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Financial, Acronyms, Idioms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.


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.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


a person who has attained the age of legal majority.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

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.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
Adult joblessness has been consistently higher among women than among men.
The latest joblessness rate is 2.5 percentage points lower than the 22.2 percent in June last year, and 4 points higher than the 13-year-low of 15.7 percent, or 7.2 million adults, recorded in December 2017.
The poll was conducted from March 23-27, 2018 using face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults.
Knowles, with the assistance of Holton and Swanson (1998), later recognized an additional assumption regarding the concept of adult learning.
We find that between 2001 and 2013, net worth fell among young adults, primarily because of declines in asset holdings.
Therefore, many disadvantaged adult education programs offer hope for adult learners that face the dilemma of job rejections and unemployment due to a lack of skills (Champagne, 1987).
Young adults either do or don't believe in that Real Presence.
And when they are adults, they will pass on what they've learned to the next litter of pups.
Gerald Wilkinson of the University of Maryland at College Park says that he's not persuaded that adult bats confine their calls to single contexts.
"Traditionally, childhood and children's lives have solely been explored through the views and understandings of their adult caretakers" (Christensen & James, 2000, p.