le·​gal·​ism | \ ˈlē-gə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce legalism (audio) \

Definition of legalism

1 : strict, literal, or excessive conformity to the law or to a religious or moral code the institutionalized legalism that restricts free choice
2 : a legal term or rule

Examples of legalism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web But does anyone truly think that the public forms its perceptions based on such legalisms and hair-splitting? Nathan L. Kinard, National Review, "Ethics Rules Do Not Bar Judges from Membership in the Federalist Society," 6 Feb. 2020 Harris has famously repented of his past legalism, and that makes his departure from the faith particularly poignant. David French, National Review, "Whither Evangelical Purity Culture? Thoughts on the Legacy of a Lost Pastor," 29 July 2019 In response, Boeing vice president Austell dismissed the Airbus position as a deceptive legalism. Dominic Gates, The Seattle Times, "WTO upholds ruling against Washington’s tax reduction for Boeing," 9 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'legalism.' 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 legalism

1871, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of legalism was in 1871

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Cite this Entry

“Legalism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Aug. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on legalism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with legalism Encyclopedia article about legalism

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