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1. Overly strict or rigid adherence to the law or to a religious or moral code.
2. A legal term or expression, especially one that is unnecessarily technical.

le′gal·ist n.
le′gal·is′tic adj.
le′gal·is′ti·cal·ly adv.


(Law) strict adherence to the law, esp the stressing of the letter of the law rather than its spirit
ˈlegalist n, adj


(ˈli gəˌlɪz əm)

1. strict adherence to law or prescription, esp. to the letter rather than the spirit.
2. the theological doctrine that salvation is gained through good works.
le′gal•ist, n.
le`gal•is′tic, adj.
le`gal•is′ti•cal•ly, adv.


Theology. 1. the doctrine that salvation is gained through good works.
2. the judging of conduct in terms of strict adherence to precise laws. — legalist, n.legalistic, adj.
See also: Religion
a strict and usually literal adherence to the law. — legalistic, adj.
See also: Law
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.legalism - strict conformity to the letter of the law rather than its spirit
conformism, conformity - orthodoxy in thoughts and belief
References in classic literature ?
But the case of Prince Michael, as it happened, was complicated by legalism as well as lawlessness.
On the first day eight research papers were presented includiing Ms Victoria Schofield, Journalist / Author-Writer, London, Paper Title: 'The Tangle of Issues Hindering a Solution for Jammu Kashmir', Ms Durdana Najam, Journalist/Columnist, Lahore Paper Title: 'The Kashmir Dispute in Historical Perspective: From Legalism to Realism-Myth and Reality', Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal, Executive Editor Kashmir Times/Peace Activist, India Paper Title: 'Human Rights abuse as a Humanitarian Crises and an Agent Accentuating Kashmir Conflict', Mr.
The Lasse Hallstrom film "Chocolat" is the basis of an examination of personal piety, legalism, self-righteousness, grace, redemption and other topics appropriate for the season of introspection and repentance.
In this backdrop, a restraint strategy needs to be replaced in place of imperialist legalism in terms of humanitarian intervention/ US' preemptive defence/targeted killing via drone strikes.
resorted to legalism with the issuance of thousands of presidential decrees, executive orders and proclamations to justify his oppressive, corrupt and tyrannical rule.
The parliament has granted members of country's top judicial authorities' members, law professors, members of the parliament's committee of constitutional and legalism affairs a time limit of 30 days to review the government draft and provide their comments.
At first, survivors were not listened to and they were even scorned, while the perpetrators were protected by denial and legalism.
Drawing on the Qur'an and his own Sufi tradition, he points to love and the search for divine revelation as twin antidotes to religion's dangerous slide towards legalism.
Legalism was a school of thought with the belief that people were basically "not good," and strong laws were needed to keep order in society.
The sources of arrogance could be many like false ego, power, wealth, prejudice, vested interests, legalism and ritualism and religious fundamentalism.
In that regard, Tyra defines legalism as: "the idea that our righteousness before God is earned rather than received as a gift" (p.
The following analysis of Legal Orders, and of Legalism in particular, derive from my study of jurisprudence and history, and from the three fields in which I worked as a lawyer--barrister; government lawyer and adviser, and as Head of the Papua New Guinea Office in the movement of Papua New Guinea to self-government and Independence.