le·​gal·​ese ˌlē-gə-ˈlēz How to pronounce legalese (audio) -ˈlēs How to pronounce legalese (audio)
: the specialized language of the legal profession
replaced legalese with plain talkSteve Weinberg

Examples of legalese in a Sentence

I was confused by the legalese in the contract.
Recent Examples on the Web While crouched in legalese, the bond documents are full of warnings that investors might not get their money back. Jonathan Shorman, Kansas City Star, 9 May 2024 But there’s an automatic pause — in legalese, a stay — if the person or entity obtains a bond guaranteeing payment of what’s owed. Michael R. Sisak, Fortune, 2 Apr. 2024 Over the course of 88 pages of surprisingly readable legalese, the US Department of Justice attempted to make the case that Apple is a problem. David Pierce, The Verge, 22 Mar. 2024 Then in comes Hamill's Mr. Pym, the family's undefeated lawyer, to shut them all up with legalese. Nick Romano,, 20 Sep. 2023 When Boeing faced similarly protracted regulatory reviews before, some of Calhoun’s predecessors of were ill-advised to hide behind exceedingly vague, impersonal legalese in deference to regulators and investigators–which did not end well. Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, Fortune, 29 Jan. 2024 The court fight was initially shrouded by corporate legalese and filings unavailable the public’s view. Jonathan Mattise, The Christian Science Monitor, 8 Dec. 2023 In dry legalese, the court documents recount the Russian state’s case against these statements and protests. Anton Troianovski, New York Times, 29 Dec. 2023 Instead of legalese, the portal should approach people at the level that they are accustomed to being addressed. Michael Stebbins and Eric D. Perakslis, STAT, 15 Dec. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'legalese.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1911, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of legalese was in 1911

Dictionary Entries Near legalese

Cite this Entry

“Legalese.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2024.

Legal Definition


le·​gal·​ese ˌlē-gə-ˈlēz, -ˈlēs How to pronounce legalese (audio)
: the specialized language of the legal profession

More from Merriam-Webster on legalese

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!