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law Meaning, Definition & Usage

  1. noun the collection of rules imposed by authority
    • civilization presupposes respect for the law
    • the great problem for jurisprudence to allow freedom while enforcing order
  2. noun legal document setting forth rules governing a particular kind of activity
    • there is a law against kidnapping
  3. noun a rule or body of rules of conduct inherent in human nature and essential to or binding upon human society
    natural law.
  4. noun a generalization that describes recurring facts or events in nature
    law of nature.
    • the laws of thermodynamics
  5. noun the branch of philosophy concerned with the law and the principles that lead courts to make the decisions they do
    legal philosophy; jurisprudence.
  6. noun the learned profession that is mastered by graduate study in a law school and that is responsible for the judicial system
    practice of law.
    • he studied law at Yale
  7. noun the force of policemen and officers
    police; police force; constabulary.
    • the law came looking for him

Law noun
OE. lawe, laghe, AS. lagu, from the root of E. lie: akin to OS. lag, Icel. lög, Sw. lag, Dan. lov; cf. L. lex, E. legal. A law is that which is laid, set, or fixed; like statute, fr. L. statuere to make to stand. See Lie to be prostrate.
  1. In general, a rule of being or of conduct, established by an authority able to enforce its will; a controlling regulation; the mode or order according to which an agent or a power acts. ✍ A law may be universal or particular, written or unwritten, published or secret. From the nature of the highest laws a degree of permanency or stability is always implied; but the power which makes a law, or a superior power, may annul or change it.
    These are the statutes and judgments and law, which the Lord made. Lev. xxvi. 46.
    The law of thy God, and the law of the King. Ezra vii. 26.
    As if they would confine the Interminable . . . Who made our laws to bind us, not himself. Milton.
    His mind his kingdom, and his will his law. Cowper.
  2. In morals: The will of God as the rule for the disposition and conduct of all responsible beings toward him and toward each other; a rule of living, conformable to righteousness; the rule of action as obligatory on the conscience or moral nature.
  3. The Jewish or Mosaic code, and that part of Scripture where it is written, in distinction from the gospel; hence, also, the Old Testament.
    What things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law . . . But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets. Rom. iii. 19, 21.
  4. In human government: (a) An organic rule, as a constitution or charter, establishing and defining the conditions of the existence of a state or other organized community. (b) Any edict, decree, order, ordinance, statute, resolution, judicial, decision, usage, etc., or recognized, and enforced, by the controlling authority.
  5. In philosophy and physics: A rule of being, operation, or change, so certain and constant that it is conceived of as imposed by the will of God or by some controlling authority; as, the law of gravitation; the laws of motion; the law heredity; the laws of thought; the laws of cause and effect; law of self-preservation.
  6. In matematics: The rule according to which anything, as the change of value of a variable, or the value of the terms of a series, proceeds; mode or order of sequence.
  7. In arts, works, games, etc.: The rules of construction, or of procedure, conforming to the conditions of success; a principle, maxim; or usage; as, the laws of poetry, of architecture, of courtesy, or of whist.
  8. Collectively, the whole body of rules relating to one subject, or emanating from one source; -- including usually the writings pertaining to them, and judicial proceedings under them; as, divine law; English law; Roman law; the law of real property; insurance law.
  9. Legal science; jurisprudence; the principles of equity; applied justice.
    Reason is the life of the law; nay, the common law itself is nothing else but reason. Coke.
    Law is beneficence acting by rule. Burke.
    And sovereign Law, that state's collected will O'er thrones and globes elate, Sits empress, crowning good, repressing ill. Sir W. Jones.
  10. Trial by the laws of the land; judicial remedy; litigation; as, to go law.
    When every case in law is right. Shak.
    He found law dear and left it cheap. Brougham.
  11. An oath, as in the presence of a court. Obs. See Wager of law, under Wager. Syn. -- Justice; equity. -- Law, Statute, Common law, Regulation, Edict, Decree. Law is generic, and, when used with reference to, or in connection with, the other words here considered, denotes whatever is commanded by one who has a right to require obedience. A statute is a particular law drawn out in form, and distinctly enacted and proclaimed. Common law is a rule of action founded on long usage and the decisions of courts of justice. A regulation is a limited and often, temporary law, intended to secure some particular end or object. An edict is a command or law issued by a sovereign, and is peculiar to a despotic government. A decree is a permanent order either of a court or of the executive government. See Justice.
Law transitive verb
  1. Same as Lawe, v. t. Obs.
Law interjection
Cf. La.
  1. An exclamation of mild surprise. Archaic or Low

Webster 1913

"Rowling never met an adverb she didn't like."

-Stephen King on J.K Rowling's excessive use of adverbs.

Fear not the Adverb Hell!

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