[jon-suh-neez, -nees]


a literary style characterized by rhetorically balanced, often pompous phraseology and an excessively Latinate vocabulary: so called from the style of writing practiced by Samuel Johnson.

Origin of Johnsonese

First recorded in 1835–45; Johnson + -ese Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for johnsonese

Historical Examples of johnsonese

  • When he wrote for publication, he did his sentences out of English into Johnsonese.

  • The literary style of Mary Wollstonecraft's book is Johnsonese, but its thought forms the base of all that has come after.

  • What sort of an appearance would they present when furnished in a blend of Johnsonese and his own stheticism?

    Twos and Threes

    G. B. Stern

  • Sebastian, for his part, might have found some difficulty in translating into Johnsonese the twisted asceticism of Stuart Heron.

    Twos and Threes

    G. B. Stern

  • I read my Johnson and Locke that winter and tried to write a little in the Johnsonese buckram style.