Definition of legalism in English:



  • 1[mass noun] Excessive adherence to law or formula.

    ‘this petty legalism encouraged more to flee’
    • ‘Canadian science-based risk regulation has ample room to move away from closed-door bargaining and its lack of public accountability, without falling into the pitfalls of American pluralist legalism.’
    • ‘To view it differently is to prefer brain-dead legalism to survival.’
    • ‘In this kingdom of strict and complete legalism, it was considered that the judge certainly never made new law himself, he had no democratic legitimacy to reform the law or to express views on what the law should be.’
    • ‘Today, democracy is above all about formal legalism - the unconditional adherence to a set of formal rules that guarantee society's antagonisms are fully absorbed into the political arena.’
    • ‘The legalism was too tough and the first empire that tried it, the Qin empire, which gave China its name lasted only two emperors, then got kicked out.’
    • ‘Christianity is not, as David implied, about escaping eternal damnation by following pages of strict legalism (which is another very common misconception).’
    • ‘Its political culture, once fiercely democratic, is being eroded by a manipulated, bureaucratic legalism that identifies dissent as disloyalty.’
    • ‘I ask only because the ‘debate’ about the use of this horrible substance appears to be sliding into maze of legalism and moralism.’
    • ‘But in this legislation I see there is no freedom to choose; there is just legalism, which binds people.’
    • ‘The resort to legalism has contributed to the present crisis.’
    • ‘And none of these ancient writers has seemed to me to lead to any sort of legalism.’
    • ‘It is equally clear from the objects section that the legalism of the Employment Contracts Act era is no longer a useful construction of the employment relationship.’
    • ‘On nonproliferation, India believes that the vacuous legalism of the current nonproliferation regime will lead the world nowhere.’
    • ‘I think we get into law and legalism, and we don't understand that it's really, really human to err.’
    1. 1.1Theology Adherence to moral law rather than to personal religious faith.
      ‘stress obedience apart from faith and you produce legalism’
      • ‘Yet I think the continued presence of these wrong doctrines has a baleful and divisive influence in Adventism, causing large segments of the denomination to lurch towards legalism and works righteousness.’
      • ‘As in many things, we must walk that line between legalism or pietism on the one hand and licentiousness on the other.’
      • ‘There are the two extremes of legalism and antinomianism to avoid.’
      • ‘What it amounts to is the idea of moral legalism, that one should outlaw all wrongdoing.’
      • ‘The history of the Church, Coughlin notes, displays periods of both legalism and antinomianism.’