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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.
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References in classic literature ?
For no man is such a legalist as the good Secularist.
Influenced by Legalist as well as Confucian ideas, Zhou li discusses government in general under "Offices of Heaven," education under "Offices of Earth," social and religious institutions under "Offices of Spring," the army under "Offices of Summer," justice under "Office of Autumn," and population, territory, and agriculture under "Office of Winter.
Seventeenth-century legalist Benedict Carpzov also saw drankenness as a form of extenuating circumstance that could diminish guilt but not entirely eradicate it.
Finally, Han Fei and the Legalist school created a Machiavellian political philosophy, advocating a totalitarian system run according to harsh and invariable laws.
The Ch'in dynasty (221 bc - 206 bc ) unified China and attempted to suppress all philosophies except that of the Legalist School, but the brief rule of the dynasty allowed many destroyed texts to be reconstructed.
He is the author of ten books, including studies of the history of bureaucracy, The Roots of American Bureaucracy: 1830-1900, and of New York legal history, The Legalist Reformation: Law, Politics, and Ideology in New York, 1920-1980.
He was a legalist as well as a brilliant pragmatist, who commanded a style, a mannerism that caught everybody's attention, and many times, lasting respect.
In an effort to theorize an alternative and more constructive vocabulary for understanding these attitudes concerning sincerity and deception in contemporary political media, I examine the classical Legalist philosopher Han Feizi (280-233 BCE) and his defense of morally justified forms of state-sponsored persuasion (shui [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) and secrecy (mi [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]).
One critical issue is that many spouses should use their engagement period to know each other well enough to decide whether they should go on with their union," one legalist said.
This fascinating picture fails to reveal how the domination of rich and violent peasants was perceived by poor or legalist peasants: was it a ground for conflicts inside the communities?
The legalist in me says that that compared to the plan on the table in 1787 any alternative requiring the convention's proposal to be amended or revised before it was ratified would have doomed the whole enterprise of replacing the Articles of Confederation with a viable constitutional framework.
Solomon and Nigel Quinney develop and define four facets or professional orientations characterizing past American negotiating practice: a businesslike approach to ensure purposeful and productive activity, the legalist approach to ensure concrete details and abstract principles, the moralistic approach to ensure US values and ideals reign supreme, and the superpower approach to enforce "might makes right.