law

noun
\ ˈlȯ How to pronounce law (audio) \
plural laws

Definition of law

 (Entry 1 of 6)

1a(1) : a binding custom or practice of a community : a rule of conduct or action prescribed (see prescribe sense 1a) or formally recognized as binding or enforced by a controlling authority
(2) : the whole body of such customs, practices, or rules The courts exist to uphold, interpret, and apply the law.
(3) : common law
b(1) : the control brought about by the existence or enforcement of such law The Indian government is believed to have detained thousands of other people last year … . The government said the move, decried by critics as draconian, was necessary to maintain law and public order in the region.BBC.com — see also law and order
(2) : the action of laws considered as a means of redressing wrongs also : litigation developed the habit of going to law over the slightest provocation — H. A. Overstreet
(3) : the agency of or an agent of established law When he saw that the fighting was escalating, he called in the law.
c : a rule or order that it is advisable or obligatory to observe a law of self-preservation
d : something compatible with or enforceable by established law The decrees were judged not to be law and were therefore rescinded.
e : control, authority The child submits to no law.
2a often capitalized : the revelation of the will of God set forth in the Old Testament
b capitalized : the first part of the Jewish scriptures : pentateuch, torah — see Bible Table
3 : a rule of construction or procedure the laws of poetry
4 : the whole body of laws relating to one subject criminal law probate law
5a : the legal profession studied for a career in law
b : law as a department of knowledge : jurisprudence
c : legal knowledge a man with much history but little law
6a : a statement of an order or relation of phenomena that so far as is known is invariable under the given conditions a law of thermodynamics Boyle's law
b : a general relation proved or assumed to hold between mathematical or logical expressions
at law
: under or within the provisions of the law enforceable at law

law

verb
lawed; lawing; laws

Definition of law (Entry 2 of 6)

transitive verb

chiefly dialectal : to sue or prosecute at law

Law

biographical name (1)
\ ˈlȯ How to pronounce Law (audio) \

Definition of Law (Entry 3 of 6)

(Andrew) Bon*ar \ ˈbä-​nər How to pronounce Law (audio) \ 1858–1923 British (Canadian-born) statesman

Law

biographical name (2)

Definition of Law (Entry 4 of 6)

Edward 1750–1818 1st Baron Ellenborough \ ˈe-​lən-​ˌbər-​ə How to pronounce Law (audio) , -​ˌbə-​rə , -​brə \ English jurist

Law

biographical name (3)

Definition of Law (Entry 5 of 6)

John 1671–1729 Scottish financier and speculator

Law

biographical name (4)

Definition of Law (Entry 6 of 6)

William 1686–1761 English writer

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Choose the Right Synonym for law

Noun

law, rule, regulation, precept, statute, ordinance, canon mean a principle governing action or procedure. law implies imposition by a sovereign authority and the obligation of obedience on the part of all subject to that authority. obey the law rule applies to more restricted or specific situations. the rules of the game regulation implies prescription by authority in order to control an organization or system. regulations affecting nuclear power plants precept commonly suggests something advisory and not obligatory communicated typically through teaching. the precepts of effective writing statute implies a law enacted by a legislative body. a statute requiring the use of seat belts ordinance applies to an order governing some detail of procedure or conduct enforced by a limited authority such as a municipality. a city ordinance canon suggests in nonreligious use a principle or rule of behavior or procedure commonly accepted as a valid guide. the canons of good taste

synonyms see in addition hypothesis

Examples of law in a Sentence

Noun The courts exist to uphold, interpret, and apply the law. a lawyer who specializes in criminal law In our civics class we learned how a bill becomes a law. She has proposed a new law to protect people from being evicted unfairly. Schools are required by law to provide a safe learning environment. The bill will become law at the beginning of the year. He's been in and out of trouble with the law for the last 10 years.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Later, Signal blasted security firm Cellebrite’s software that law enforcement use to break into encrypted iPhones and Androids that are part of active investigations. Chris Smith, BGR, "Signal exposed Facebook’s terrifying user tracking in the best possible way," 5 May 2021 The original jury, which consisted of six White people, four Black people and two multiracial people, heard 13 days of testimony from medical experts and law enforcement officials. Victoria Albert, CBS News, "Derek Chauvin seeks new trial in George Floyd case," 5 May 2021 Yet the tabloid nature of his discoveries, and the solid wall of law enforcement and political figures resistant to reopening the case, pushed Terry out of the limelight and into the realm of crankdom. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "“The Sons of Sam,” Reviewed: A Netflix Docuseries Confronts a True-Crime Legend," 5 May 2021 About 80 members of the public and dozens of area law enforcement officers attended. Elliot Hughes, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Annual ceremony honoring fallen law enforcement officers returns after being canceled in 2020," 5 May 2021 Colombia's ongoing protests have also prompted fear and outrage at law enforcement's handling of demonstrators -- a concern echoed by rights organizations and foreign observers. Stefano Pozzebon, CNN, "Colombia's bloody protests could be a warning to the region," 5 May 2021 The documentary features an interview between Terry and Berkowitz, who confirms many of the former's theories, though the authenticity of his claims has been questioned, including by law enforcement. Ew Staff, EW.com, "What to Watch on Wednesday: The Masked Singer returns with the 'Spicy 6' and Chrissy Metz," 5 May 2021 Just before midnight, law enforcement arrived at Lamboy’s house to perform a welfare check on his son and to search the home for Carlson’s body. Washington Post, "She told followers she was ‘Mother God.’ Her mummified body was found wrapped in Christmas lights.," 5 May 2021 Various law enforcement agencies attempted to stop Smith, who had two flat tires. al, "Mississippi police shot more than 20 times at car carrying slain baby, double murder suspect," 5 May 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'law.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of law

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

Verb

circa 1550, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for law

Noun and Verb

Middle English, from Old English lagu, of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse lǫg law; akin to Old English licgan to lie — more at lie

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Time Traveler for law

Time Traveler

The first known use of law was before the 12th century

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Statistics for law

Last Updated

8 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Law.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/law. Accessed 10 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for law

law

noun

English Language Learners Definition of law

: the whole system or set of rules made by the government of a town, state, country, etc.
: a particular kind of law
: a rule made by the government of a town, state, country, etc.

law

noun
\ ˈlȯ How to pronounce law (audio) \

Kids Definition of law

1 : a rule of conduct or action that a nation or a group of people agrees to follow
2 : a whole collection of established rules the law of the land
3 : a rule or principle that always works the same way under the same conditions the law of gravity
4 : a bill passed by a legislature
6 : the profession of a lawyer

law

noun
\ ˈlȯ How to pronounce law (audio) \

Medical Definition of law

: a statement of order or relation holding for certain phenomena that so far as is known is invariable under the given conditions

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law

noun
\ ˈlȯ How to pronounce law (audio) \

Legal Definition of law

1 : a rule of conduct or action prescribed or formally recognized as binding or enforced by a controlling authority: as
a : a command or provision enacted by a legislature — see also statute sense 1
b : something (as a judicial decision) authoritatively accorded binding or controlling effect in the administration of justice that case is no longer the law of this circuit
2a : a body of laws the law of a state broadly : laws and justice considered as a general and established entity the law looks with disfavor on restraints on alienation
b : common law — compare equity sense 2
3a : the control or authority of the law maintain law and order
b : one or more agents or agencies involved in enforcing laws
c : the application of a law or laws as distinct from considerations of fact an error of law — see also issue of law at issue, matter of law at matter, question of law at question sense 2
4 : the whole body of laws and doctrines relating to one subject contract law the law of attractive nuisance
5a : the legal profession practice law
b : the nature, use, and effects of laws and legal systems as an area of knowledge or society the politics of law — compare jurisprudence
at law
: under or within the provisions of the law especially as opposed to equity a remedy at law

History and Etymology for law

Old English lagu, of Scandinavian origin

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More from Merriam-Webster on law

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for law

Nglish: Translation of law for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of law for Arabic Speakers

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