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 The settlement in the Cameron et al v. Apple class-action suit, first filed in federal court in Oakland, Calif., in June 2019, touted enhancements and new features rather than the legalese of the settlement. Cynthia Littleton, Variety, 26 Aug. 2021 With that wonky bit of legalese, Congress smiled on the Bechtel clan. Justin Elliott, ProPublica, 12 Aug. 2021 Then there’s the matter of the ballot question’s hazy wording, drafted in dense legalese by Mexico’s supreme court. Patrick J. Mcdonnell, Los Angeles Times, 31 July 2021 The 57-page filing contains a lot of legalese that won’t make it onto the show. Scott D. Pierce, The Salt Lake Tribune, 20 June 2021 If real estate legalese doesn’t sound like fodder for an edge-of-your-seat horror story, consider the implications. New York Times, 8 Apr. 2021 Those policies are typically indecipherable legalese and vary from one platform to another. Tom Wheeler, Time, 5 Apr. 2021 Often, these agreements state, in dense legalese, that consumers don’t own the contents of their devices. Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker, 8 Mar. 2021 His wife, cofounder and lawyer Elizabeth Leahy, has helped the couple navigate the legalese of starting a brewery at home. Globe Staff,, 2 Mar. 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near legalese

legal eagle


legal estoppel

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Statistics for legalese

Last Updated

8 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Legalese.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Oct. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce legalese (audio) \

Legal Definition of legalese

: the specialized language of the legal profession

More from Merriam-Webster on legalese

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for legalese


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