Definify.com

Webster 1913 Edition


Law

Law

(la̤)
,
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
laws
, 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.
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 mathematics: 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.
Shakespeare
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

,
Verb.
T.
Same as
Lawe
,
Verb.
T.
[Obs.]

Law

,
int
erj.
[Cf.
La
.]
An exclamation of mild surprise.
[Archaic or Low]

Webster 1828 Edition


Law

LAW

,
Noun.
[L. lex; from the root of lay. See lay. A law is that which is laid, set or fixed, like statute, constitution, from L. statuo.]
1.
A rule, particularly an established or permanent rule, prescribed by the supreme power of a state to its subjects, for regulating their actions, particularly their social actions. Laws are imperative or mandatory, commanding what shall be done; prohibitory, restraining from what is to be forborn; or permissive, declaring what may be done without incurring a penalty. The laws which enjoin the duties of piety and morality, are prescribed by God and found in the Scriptures.
Law is beneficence acting by rule.
2.
Municipal law, is a rule of civil conduct prescribed by the supreme power of a state, commanding what its subjects are to do, and prohibiting what they are to forbear; a statute.
Municipal or civil laws are established by the decrees, edicts or ordinances of absolute princes, as emperors and kings, or by the formal acts of the legislatures of free states. Law therefore is sometimes equivalent to decree, edict, or ordinance.
3.
Law of nature, is a rule of conduct arising out of the natural relations of human beings established by the Creator, and existing prior to any positive precept. Thus it is a law of nature, that one man should not injure another, and murder and fraud would be crimes, independent of any prohibition from a supreme power.
4.
Laws of animal nature, the inherent principles by which the economy and functions of animal bodies are performed, such as respiration, the circulation of the blood, digestion, nutrition, various secretions, &c.
5.
Laws of vegetation, the principles by which plats are produced, and their growth carried on till they arrive to perfection.
6.
Physical laws, or laws of nature. The invariable tendency or determination of any species of matter to a particular form with definite properties, and the determination of a body to certain motions, changes, and relations, which uniformly take place in the same circumstances, is called a physical law. These tendencies or determinations, whether called laws or affections of matter, have been established by the Creator, and are, with a peculiar felicity of expression, denominated in Scripture, ordinances of heaven.
7.
Laws of nations, the rules that regulate the mutual intercourse of nations or states. These rules depend on natural law, or the principles of justice which spring from the social state; or they are founded on customs, compacts, treaties, leagues and agreements between independent communities.
By the law of nations, we are to understand that code of public instruction, which defines the rights and prescribes the duties of nations, in their intercourse with each other.
8.
Moral law, a law which prescribes to men their religious and social duties, in other words, their duties to God and to each other. The moral law is summarily contained in the decalogue or ten commandments, written by the finger of God on two tables of stone, and delivered to Moses on mount Sinai.
Ex. 20.
9.
Ecclesiastical law, a rule of action prescribed for the government of a church; otherwise called canon law.
10.
Written law, a law or rule of action prescribed or enacted by a sovereign, and promulgated and recorded in writing; a written statute, ordinance, edict or decree.
11.
Unwritten or common law, a rule of action which derives its authority from long usage, or established custom, which has been immemorially received and recognized by judicial tribunals. As this law can be traced to no positive statutes, its rules or principles are to be found only in the records of courts, and in the reports of judicial decisions.
12.
By-law, a law of a city, town or private corporation. [See By.]
13.
Mosaic law, the institutions of Moses, or the code of laws prescribed to the Jews, as distinguished from the gospel.
14.
Ceremonial law, the Mosaic institutions which prescribe the external rites and ceremonies to be observed by the Jews, as distinct from the moral precepts, which are of perpetual obligation.
15.
A rule of direction; a directory; as reason and natural conscience.
These, having not the law, as a law to themselves. Rom. 2.
16.
That which governs or has a tendency to rule; that which has the power of controlling.
But I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. Romans 7.
17.
The word of God; the doctrines and precepts of God, or his revealed will.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night. Ps. 1.
18.
The Old Testament.
Is it not written in your law, I said, ye are gods? John 10.
19.
The institutions of Moses, as distinct from the other parts of the Old Testament; as the law and the prophets.
20.
A rule or axiom of science or art; settled principle; as the laws of versification or poetry.
21.
Law martial, or martial law, the rules ordained for the government of an army or military force.
22.
Marine laws, rules for the regulation of navigation, and the commercial intercourse of nations.
23.
Commercial law, law-merchant, the system of rules by which trade and commercial intercourse are regulated between merchants.
24.
Judicial process; prosecution of right in courts of law.
Tom Touchy is a fellow famous for taking the law of every body.
Hence the phrase, to go to law, to prosecute; to seek redress in a legal tribunal.
25.
Jurisprudence; as in the title, Doctor of Laws.
26.
In general, law is a rule of action prescribed for the government of rational beings or moral agents, to which rule they are bound to yield obedience, in default of which they are exposed to punishment; or law is a settled mode or course of action or operation in irrational beings and in inanimate bodies.
Civil law, criminal law. [See Civil and Criminal.]
Laws of honor. [See Honor.]
Law language, the language used in legal writings and forms, particularly the Norman dialect or Old French, which was used in judicial proceedings from the days of William the conqueror to the 36th year of Edward III.
Wager of law, a species of trial formerly used in England, in which the defendant gave security that he would, on a certain day, make his law, that is, he would make oath that he owed nothing to the plaintiff, and would produce eleven of his neighbors as compurgators, who should swear that they believed in their consciences that he had sworn the truth.

Definition 2022


Law

Law

See also: law

English

Proper noun

Law

  1. A patronymic surname.
  2. A diminutive of Lawrence.

Etymology 2

From Old English hlaw, a hill or burial mound.

Proper noun

Law

  1. A topographic surname, perhaps originally meaning someone who lives near a burial mound.
  2. (Scotland) a conical hill

Etymology 3

Capitalized form of law.

Proper noun

Law

  1. (Judaism) the Torah
  2. (Christianity) a generic term which can refer to the Divine commandments (primarily the Decalogue), the Old Testament in general or, most specifically, the Torah.

Anagrams

law

law

See also: Law

English

Noun

law (countable and uncountable, plural laws)

  1. (uncountable) The body of rules and standards issued by the legislative body, or to be applied by courts and similar authorities.
    By law, one is not allowed to own a wallaby in New York City.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 22, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
      Not unnaturally, Auntie took this communication in bad part. [] Next day she [] tried to recover her ward by the hair of the head. Then, thwarted, the wretched creature went to the police for help; she was versed in the law, and had perhaps spared no pains to keep on good terms with the local constabulary.
  2. A particular such rule.
    A new law forbids driving on that road.
    • 1915, George A. Birmingham, chapter I”, in Gossamer (Project Gutenberg; EBook #24394), London: Methuen & Co., published 8 January 2013 (Project Gutenberg version), OCLC 558189256:
      As a political system democracy seems to me extraordinarily foolish, []. My servant is, so far as I am concerned, welcome to as many votes as he can get. [] I do not suppose that it matters much in reality whether laws are made by dukes or cornerboys, but I like, as far as possible, to associate with gentlemen in private life.
  3. (more generally) A written or understood rule that concerns behaviours and their consequences. Laws are usually associated with mores.
    "Do unto others as you wish them to do unto you" is a good law to follow.
  4. (sciences, strictly) A well-established, observed physical characteristic or behavior of nature. The word is used to simply identify "what happens," without implying any explanatory mechanism or causation. Compare to theory.
    Newton's third law of motion states that to every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction. This is one of several laws derived from his general theory expounded in the Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica.
  5. (mathematics) A statement that is true under specified conditions.
  6. A category of English "common law" petitions that request monetary relief, as opposed to relief in forms other than a monetary judgment; compare to "equity".
  7. (cricket) One of the official rules of cricket as codified by the MCC.
  8. (slang, uncountable) The police.
    Here comes the law — run!
  9. (fantasy) One of the two metaphysical forces of the world in some fantasy settings, as opposed to chaos.
  10. An oath, as in the presence of a court. See wager of law.
Hyponyms
Derived terms
Translations

See also

  • Appendix:Legal terms
  • Appendix:Glossary of legal terms
  • Category:Law

Etymology 2

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

Noun

law (plural laws)

  1. (obsolete) a tumulus of stones
  2. (Scottish and northern dialectal, archaic) a hill
    • 1892, Robert Louis Stevenson, Across the Plains
      You might climb the Law [...] and behold the face of many counties.

Etymology 3

Compare la.

Interjection

law

  1. (dated) An exclamation of mild surprise; lawks.

References

Etymology in ODS

Statistics

Most common English words before 1923: ground · understand · fine · #431: law · show · terms · sort

Anagrams


Lower Sorbian

lawy

Etymology

From Proto-Slavic *lьvъ, from Proto-Indo-European *lewo-.

Pronunciation

  • IPA(key): /law/

Noun

law m (diminutive lawk, feminine equivalent lawowka)

  1. lion (Panthera leo)

Declension

Derived terms

  • lawica
  • lawik
  • lawowy

Scots

Noun

law (plural laws)

  1. law
  2. rounded hill (usually conical, frequently isolated or conspicuous)

Sranan Tongo

Verb

law

  1. To be crazy

Upper Sorbian

Etymology

From Proto-Slavic *lьvъ, from Proto-Indo-European *lewo-.

Pronunciation

  • IPA(key): /lau̯/

Noun

law m

  1. lion (Panthera leo)

Declension

Derived terms

  • lawica, lawjace/-a/-y, lawowe/-a/-y

Welsh

Noun

law

  1. Soft mutation of glaw (rain).

Mutation

Welsh mutation
radical soft nasal aspirate
glaw law nglaw unchanged
Note: Some of these forms may be hypothetical. Not every
possible mutated form of every word actually occurs.

Noun

law

  1. Soft mutation of llaw (hand).

Mutation

Welsh mutation
radical soft nasal aspirate
llaw law unchanged unchanged
Note: Some of these forms may be hypothetical. Not every
possible mutated form of every word actually occurs.