le·gal·ese | \ ˌlē-gə-ˈlēz , -ˈlēs \

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

Somewhere between the legalese and accusations and motivations and maybe cover-ups lies what’s fair, even if that’s still impossible to pinpoint. Mike Anthony,, "Mike Anthony: UConn's Case Against Kevin Ollie Firm By Contract Terms, Flimsy By Common Sense," 21 June 2018 Other news networks started sending messages asking for permission to use my videos, somehow expecting me to read and agree to legalese while cars floated by. Libby Solomon, Howard County Times, "'Wanna go on the clock?': In Ellicott City, reporting on a disaster in my own backyard," 11 June 2018 The law requires that the terms and conditions be written in plain, understandable language, not legalese. Adam Satariano, New York Times, "What Europe’s Tough New Data Law Means for You, and the Internet," 6 May 2018 Due process materials used by U.S. schools are often written in dense legalese requiring college level schooling to understand. Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, "Are too many minority students identified as disabled? Or are some who need services overlooked?," 4 May 2018 Instead of whiskey, we’d be fueled by a cocktail of righteousness and florid legalese. Chris Colin, Outside Online, "Drawing a Line in the Sand Over River Rights," 30 May 2018 You could be stuck in your legalese and call them a complainant. Elizabeth Kiefer, Glamour, "What Is Sexual Harassment? A Glossary of the #MeToo Movement," 30 May 2018 Janet Randall, a psycholinguist at Northeastern University, has found that rendering these instructions in plain English, stripping out passives and legalese especially, makes them much easier to interpret. The Economist, "Too often juries comprise 12 confused men (and women)," 14 Apr. 2018 But making the case for the rights of nature is a hard enough battle without stepping so far afield of the standard legalese. Rachel Riederer, The New Republic, "Can Rivers Be People Too?," 9 May 2018

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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Time Traveler for legalese

The first known use of legalese was in 1911

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English Language Learners Definition of legalese

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


le·gal·ese | \ ˌlē-gə-ˈlēz, -ˈlēs \

Legal Definition of legalese 

: the specialized language of the legal profession

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Comments on legalese

What made you want to look up legalese? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the setting in which something occurs

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