legalism

noun
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.

See More

First Known Use of legalism

1871, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about legalism

Time Traveler for legalism

Time Traveler

The first known use of legalism was in 1871

See more words from the same year

Statistics for legalism

Cite this Entry

“Legalism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/legalism. Accessed 11 Aug. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on legalism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with legalism

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about legalism

Comments on legalism

What made you want to look up legalism? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt painting a young scholar and his tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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