from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A rule of conduct or procedure established by custom, agreement, or authority.
  • noun The body of rules and principles governing the affairs of a community and enforced by a political authority; a legal system.
  • noun The condition of social order and justice created by adherence to such a system.
  • noun A set of rules or principles dealing with a specific area of a legal system.
  • noun A statute, ordinance, or other rule enacted by a legislature.
  • noun A judicially established legal requirement; a precedent.
  • noun The system of judicial administration giving effect to the laws of a community.
  • noun Legal action or proceedings; litigation.
  • noun An impromptu or extralegal system of justice substituted for established judicial procedure.
  • noun An agency or agent responsible for enforcing the law. Often used with the.
  • noun Informal A police officer. Often used with the.
  • noun The science and study of law; jurisprudence.
  • noun Knowledge of law.
  • noun The profession of an attorney.
  • noun Something, such as an order or a dictum, having absolute or unquestioned authority.
  • noun A body of principles or precepts held to express the divine will, especially as revealed in the Bible.
  • noun The first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures.
  • noun A code of principles based on morality, conscience, or nature.
  • noun A rule or custom generally established in a particular domain.
  • noun A way of life.
  • noun A statement describing a relationship observed to be invariable between or among phenomena for all cases in which the specified conditions are met.
  • noun A generalization based on consistent experience or results.
  • noun Mathematics A general principle or rule that is assumed or that has been proven to hold between expressions.
  • noun A principle of organization, procedure, or technique.
  • idiom (a law unto (oneself)) A totally independent operator.
  • idiom (take the law into (one's) own hands) To mete out justice as one sees fit without due recourse to law enforcement agencies or the courts.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A rule of action prescribed by authority, especially by a sovereign or by the state: as, the laws of Manu; a law of God.
  • noun Specifically— Any written or positive rule, or collection of rules, prescribed under the authority of the state or nation, whether by the people in its constitution, as the organic law, or by the legislature in its statute law, or by the treaty-making power, or by municipalities in their ordinances or by-laws.
  • noun An act of the supreme legislative body of a state or nation, as distinguished from the constitution: as, the constitution, and the laws made in pursuance thereof.
  • noun In a more general sense, the profession or vocation of attorneys, counsellors, solicitors, conveyancers, etc.: as, to practise law.
  • noun Litigation: as, to go to law.
  • noun Collectively, a system or collection of such rules.
  • noun The Mosaic system of rules and ordinances.
  • noun Hence— The books of the Bible containing this system; the books of the law.
  • noun The preceptive part of the Bible, especially of the New-Testament, in contradistinction to its promises.
  • noun A proposition which expresses the constant or regular order of certain phenomena, or the constant mode of action of a force; a general formula or rule to which all things, or all things or phenomena within the limits of a certain class or group, conform, precisely and without exception; a rule to which events really tend to conform.
  • noun One of the rules or principles by which anything is regulated: as, the laws of the turf; the laws of versification.
  • noun A rule according to which anything is produced: as, the mathematical law of a curve.
  • noun An allowance in distance or time granted to an animal in a chase, or to a weaker competitor in a race or other contest; permission given to one competitor to start a certain distance ahead of, or a certain time before, another, in order to equalize the chances of winning.
  • noun Custom; manner.
  • noun that the quantity of an electrolyte decomposed in a given time is proportional to the strength of the current;
  • noun that the weights of the elements separated are proportional to their chemical equivalents; and


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, from Old English lagu, from Old Norse *lagu, variant of lag, that which is laid down; see legh- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English hlāw ("burial mound"). Also spelled low.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English lawe, laȝe, from Old English lagu ("law"), from Old Norse *lagu, an early plural form of lag, lǫg ("layer, stratum, a laying in order, measure, stroke, law", literally "something laid down or fixed"), from Proto-Germanic *lagan (“that which is laid down”), from Proto-Indo-European *legh- (“to lie”). Cognate with Icelandic lög ("things laid down, law"), Swedish lag ("law"), Danish lov ("law"). Replaced Old English ǣ and gesetnes. More at lay.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Compare la.


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  • I just really hate it when people twist what the state of the law is, or make extreme claims with colorful language about what is a fairly unexceptional case *under current law*.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » My Detroit Free Press op ed on Sotomayor and Didden: 2009

  • I just really hate it when people twist what the state of the law is, or make extreme claims with colorful language about what is a fairly unexceptional case *under current law*.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » My Detroit Free Press op ed on Sotomayor and Didden: 2009

  • It is this feature of the natural law that justifies, on Aquinas's view, our calling the natural law ˜law.™

    The Natural Law Tradition in Ethics Murphy, Mark 2008

  • This involves at least two separate claims: In one sense, it can be understood as a thesis about the concept of law, maintaining that what we call ˜law™ can only be those norms which are backed by sanctions of the political sovereign.

    The Nature of Law Marmor, Andrei 2007

  • Considering that the current law and society does not recognize this as legally actionable, I think restore may be a small step in the direction of accountability, *but only if it is applied only to those cases that absolutely cannot be prosecuted under current criminal law* I am not refering to provability here, but to whether an alleged act meets the current legal definition of rape.

    Beyond A Reasonable Doubt, The Rape/Consent Spectrum, And Restorative Justice 2006

  • (TOH-ruh, TAWR-uh, TOY-ruh) The law on which Judaism is founded (torah is Hebrew for “law”).

    Torah 2002

  • Before the objector can make out his case, that the life of the slave is protected by the law, he must not only show that the _words of the law_ grant him such protection, but that such a state of public sentiment exists as will carry out the provisions of the law in their true spirit.

    The Anti-Slavery Examiner, Omnibus American Anti-Slavery Society

  • 'I do not say, however, that there is no good woman at all, but the species is rare; and hence an old law says that no _law concerning good women_ should be made, for that laws are to be made concerning things of usual occurrence, as it is written in _Auth. sinc prohib_., etc., _quia vero_ and L. _Nam ad ca_, Dig.

    The Continental Monthly, Vol. 1, No. 3, March, 1862 Various

  • As _publication_ is essential to the binding power of a law, in fact to its existence _as law_, you will of course defeat your persecutors, and put them to shame, on the principle of _ex post facto_.

    The Journal of Negro History, Volume 3, 1918 Various

  • At first, I did not grant that he had, strictly speaking, given us a new law, and quoted the words of John, that "the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ;" but when I afterwards saw that by "_a new law_," they meant merely the gospel, or the New Testament, I answered in the affirmative.

    Fox's Book of Martyrs Or A History of the Lives, Sufferings, and Triumphant Deaths of the Primitive Protestant Martyrs John Foxe

  • “Hyrum’s Law,” named after Hyrum Wright, who previously worked at Google. The law states that when you have a sufficient number of users of an API, it doesn’t matter what you promised in the contract, all observable behaviors of your interface will be depended on by somebody.

    What makes a good API? – Ron Kuris – Medium Ron Kuris 2022

  • Informally, legal institutions also shape choices through desk-clerk law, that is, advice given by the government functionaries who answer public inquiries at state and local agencies. These legal actors frequently mislead people and discourage unconventional naming choices as a result of ignorance or their own views about proper practice.

    Changing Name Changing: Framing Rules and the Future of Marital Names See all articles by Elizabeth F. Emens 2023


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