le·​gal·​ese | \ ˌlē-gə-ˈlēz How to pronounce legalese (audio) , -ˈlēs How to pronounce legalese (audio) \

Definition of legalese

: the specialized language of the legal profession replaced legalese with plain talk— Steve Weinberg

Examples of legalese in a Sentence

I was confused by the legalese in the contract.
Recent Examples on the Web With a dense 52-page ruling clogged with legalese, the Constitutional Court removed one of the last, albeit very flimsy potential obstacles to Mr. Putin effectively becoming president for life. Andrew Higgins, New York Times, "Russia’s Highest Court Opens Way for Putin to Rule Until 2036," 16 Mar. 2020 The canniest customers in search of details on disputes may find their way to Finra’s arbitration awards site, where their diligence is rewarded with pdfs that are usually spare on case specifics and dense with legalese. Gwynn Guilford, Quartz, "Wall Street’s watchdog is obscuring data that could protect investors," 3 Mar. 2020 The deal is written in legalese and trade jargon that will be pored over by trade experts and lawyers. William Mauldin, WSJ, "U.S., China Sign Deal Easing Trade Tensions," 15 Jan. 2020 Stripped of legalese and structured in plain English, the documents underscored the extent to which the impeachment proceedings are a political rather than conventional legal process. Author: Eric Tucker, Zeke Miller, Anchorage Daily News, "Trump team, House managers trade sharp views on impeachment," 19 Jan. 2020 The other was accompanied by a 93-page report, stuffed with footnotes and legalese. The Economist, "Sound and fury The Trump administration’s trade policies clash with each other," 5 Dec. 2019 Though the process is filled with legalese, for Holmes the topic of immigration is a passionate and deeply personal one. Marina Liao, Marie Claire, "What I Wear to Work: Marilee Holmes, Vice President of Operations/General Counsel at Wilhelmina," 2 Dec. 2019 Winning in court wasn’t always the point: The lawsuit itself was the thing, a tool of intimidation cloaked in legalese, an outgoing missile that left your enemies buried in costs and hassle. Washington Post, "Trump’s legal strategy: If you can’t beat the case, beat the system," 22 Nov. 2019 Baumbach navigates the cruel arguments, the flashes of sympathy, and the legalese of divorce with realism and deft humor. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Marriage Story Examines the Details of Love and Loss," 8 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'legalese.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of legalese

1911, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of legalese was in 1911

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Last Updated

6 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Legalese.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for legalese


How to pronounce legalese (audio) How to pronounce legalese (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of legalese

informal : the language used by lawyers that is difficult for most people to understand : legal jargon


le·​gal·​ese | \ ˌlē-gə-ˈlēz, -ˈlēs How to pronounce legalese (audio) \

Legal Definition of legalese

: the specialized language of the legal profession

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