byr·​law | \ ˈbirˌlȯ, ˈbiəˌlȯ \
variants: or burlaw \ ˈbərˌlȯ , ˈbə̄ˌlȯ \
plural -s

Definition of byrlaw

: the local custom or law of a vill, township, or rural district in the north of England or in Scotland that governs disputes relating especially to boundaries, dates of plowing, and use of common land also : a particular custom or law established by common consent of the landholders of such a district

Love words?

You must — there are over 200,000 words in our free online dictionary, but you are looking for one that’s only in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.

Start your free trial today and get unlimited access to America's largest dictionary, with:

  • More than 250,000 words that aren't in our free dictionary
  • Expanded definitions, etymologies, and usage notes
  • Advanced search features
  • Ad free!

History and Etymology for byrlaw

Middle English birelage, birlawe, perhaps from (assumed) Old Norse bȳjar lög, from Old Norse bȳjar (genitive of bȳr town) + lög law

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about byrlaw

Statistics for byrlaw

Cite this Entry

“Byrlaw.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 27 January 2020.

Comments on byrlaw

What made you want to look up byrlaw? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


one that suddenly gains wealth or power

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Intact Latin Quiz

  • roman tablet
  • What did focus mean in Latin?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!