Legacy is a word used to describe obsolete computer equipment. I like to use it in a positive way, I always think of systems referred to as legacy as being time-tested, reliable, and well known by everyone in the organization; which is a primary reason legacy equipment is allowed to stick around in many places. There is always a point reached at which the equipment becomes more expensive to operate on a daily basis than it would be to replace it and retrain the staff.

The names and/or brief messages written in or on school property. This includes everything from the teacher-authorized list of names and years in the front of a textbook to the illicit carving of initials into the back of a wooden ruler. The letters, signatures, and well-wishes in the back of a yearbook are not considered to be a legacy, however. The messages in a yearbook are only going to be read by its owner, but a name or statement left in a textbook may be seen by a dozen students as time passes and each name is added to the bottom. While the forces of evil do their best to fight this by watching the students carefully, the threat of a detention ever present should one be caught writing his message on the desk, and by checking textbooks for "damage" and demanding monetary compensation from parents, the time-honored tradition of leaving one's legacy behind will never die.

In college admissions, a legacy is an applicant who is related to alumni. The term specifically refers to children of wealthy alumni who have donated substantial sums of money to the school (members of the Harvard or Yale or Duke families, for example). It can also refer to children of people who are just plain wealthy--Bill Gates's kid would be a legacy applicant to just about any university, even though ol' Bill himself never graduated from Harvard (sometimes candidates like these are called "development admits" rather than "legacy admits").

Typically, these applicants receive special consideration during the admissions process, and may be admitted ahead of equally qualified applicants whose parents don't have such deep pockets. Once admitted, these students may receive perks throughout their careers (much like college athletes), including better parking spaces, better housing, and some protection against expulsion or flunking out.

Many people believe this policy to be as rabidly unfair as affirmative action. Maybe so, but it's worth realizing that the school--and its students--may benefit from the implementation of this policy. Let's say an underqualified legacy applies to your school. You have a choice: You can choose aristocracy over meritocracy, denying a space to a somewhat more qualified student, and the legacy's daddy will buy the school a brand-new library to replace the crumbling concrete monolith that was built back in the 60's. Or you can reject him, choosing meritocracy over aristocracy, and you'll have a slightly more qualified student and no new library. Which decision is best for the school and its students overall?

Legacy admits are often assumed to be lazy, underqualified dolts who were born with silver spoon in hand and have ridden on their families' coattails ever since. All generalizations are wrong, though: A college friend of mine was a legacy admit (his last name appears on two buildings, a quad, and an auditorium) but he distinguished himself by graduating magna cum laude in engineering. No fool he.

Leg"a*cy (?), n.; pl.Legacies (#). [L. (assumed) legatia, for legatum, from legare to appoint by last will, to bequeath as a legacy, to depute: cf. OF. legat legacy. See Legate.]


A gift of property by will, esp. of money or personal property; a bequest. Also Fig.; as, a legacy of dishonor or disease.


A business with which one is intrusted by another; a commission; -- obsolete, except in the phrases last legacy, dying legacy, and the like.

My legacy and message wherefore I am sent into the world. Tyndale.

He came and told his legacy. Chapman.

Legacy duty, a tax paid to government on legacies. Wharton. -- Legacy hunter, one who flatters and courts any one for the sake of a legacy.<-- related to gold-digger (latter for any riches, not just a legacy) -->


© Webster 1913.

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