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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 ?
For no man is such a legalist as the good Secularist.
Contemporary Legalists Association President HE-seyin Bicen said the footage clearly proves that there is a plot designed by Varank against particular media outlets.
During the meeting, members of the team were briefed on comments of a number of legalists at the Majlis, as well as their visions on the draft law and amendments, which were referred by the Council of Ministers.
48) While a judicial pragmatist is sensitive to the "systemic" effects of a decision, those effects are given unwarranted weight by legalists.
Much has been written about the specific standards which Han Feizi and other Legalists lay out, and about the relationship between Legalism in general and rival schools of thought such as Mohism, Confucianism, and Daoism.
Taking into account the endeavors aimed at regularising the status of OOC and sports associations with regard to the resolution of sports disputes and arbitration in coordination with the competent authorities, the board approved the formation of a working legal team consisting of a number of lawyers and legalists to embark upon drafting the system of the Sports Disputes and Arbitration Committee.
Unidirectional approaches used by legalists would include the originalist approach, as well as when constitutional theorists argue for one approach to what the Constitution means, such as Ronald Dworkin's moral theory, (55) Barnett's libertarian theory, (56) and even John Hart Ely's theory that the Court should intercede into the political system to help individuals and groups secure equal rights when the political system cannot do so because of prejudice.
Are the Legalists Referring to Precise, Operational Definitions?
The Pharisees are denounced as "blind guides and hypocrites," petty legalists who are strict in superficial matters and neglect "the weightier matters of the law, justice, mercy and faith" (Mt.
According to Kuwaiti legalists, the non-acceptance of the other is the major reason for divorce in the country.
Legalism about law generally would come to differ from internalism about 1937; indeed, the most stringent legalists, like Justice Thomas, might become the strongest externalists.
Given the general self-enhancement tendencies of human beings (Kanten & Teigen, 2008; Ross & Sicoly, 1979; Savitsky, Van Voven, Epley, & Wright, 2005), legalists should be able to bask in the glow of their law abiding ways, especially compared to almost anyone else (e.