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

Others sent me to a Bermuda Triangle of legalese where few straight answers escaped alive. Anchorage Daily News, "The spy in your wallet: Credit cards have a privacy problem," 2 Sep. 2019 Irish author Cavanagh nails the New York vibe while illustrating an affinity for American legalese. Dallas News, "The serial killer is on the jury in Steve Cavanagh's outstanding new thriller, 'Thirteen'," 20 Aug. 2019 Of course, even LeVar might have had a difficult time with the double and triple negatives of legalese involved. Letters To The Editor, The Mercury News, "Letter: Mueller’s TV ratings don’t dilute report, wrongdoing," 30 July 2019 Unfortunately, however, Mueller’s argument was shrouded in legalese. John Cassidy, The New Yorker, "What to Expect from the Mueller Hearings," 23 July 2019 But beneath a fierce debate about the precise meaning of arcane legalese in the Baltimore Symphony Endowment Trust Agreement is a coded discussion about whether this orchestra has a long-term future, and if so, what that might look like. Mary Carole Mccauley,, "Shaky BSO finances leave endowment chiefs skittish about forking over cash, pondering orchestra’s successor," 10 July 2019 After weeks of being reprimanded by Justice Jackson for spouting random objections and nonsensical legalese, a gaunt and pale Mr. Gilbert, 34, has largely been absent from his own proceedings, choosing not to come to court on most days. New York Times, "He Graduated From Princeton, but Barely Worked. Then He Killed His Dad Over His Allowance.," 18 June 2019 Instead, viewers watching TV news or listening to the radio or tuned into the livestream at their desks heard a nervous, almost monotone lawyer speaking in legalese. Emily Dreyfuss, WIRED, "Hollywood Tried to Save America with a Live Reading of the Mueller Report," 25 June 2019 If Facebook’s legalese is to be believed, then the default setting for Calibra will require people to opt in for data-sharing. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "Facebook Cryptocurrency: Calibra’s Privacy Implications," 18 June 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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Statistics for legalese

Last Updated

7 Oct 2019

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Time Traveler for legalese

The first known use of legalese was in 1911

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More Definitions for legalese



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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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with legalese

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