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 amendments are sometimes written in dense legalese that doesn’t exactly read like a best-selling novel. Skyler Swisher,, "Your guide to Florida’s six constitutional amendments on the 2020 ballot," 18 Sep. 2020 On top of the complicated legalese, immigrants who are non-English speakers face the further challenge of translating the court’s messages. Natalie Pattillo, The New York Review of Books, "How Covid-19 Amplifies the Failures of Family Court," 2 Sep. 2020 Even the legalese in the user agreement refrains from offering a specific number. Sabienna Bowman,, "Sharing Your HBO Max Account Is Tricky, But Not Impossible," 27 May 2020 For many companies, annual reports are no longer simply tomes of legalese, tables and footnotes. Nina Trentmann, WSJ, "Companies Find Ways to Keep Their Annual Reports From Being a Bore," 3 Mar. 2020 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

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.

See More

First Known Use of legalese

1911, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about legalese

Time Traveler for legalese

Time Traveler

The first known use of legalese was in 1911

See more words from the same year

Statistics for legalese

Last Updated

1 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Legalese.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Oct. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

More from Merriam-Webster on legalese

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for legalese

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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