natural law


Definition of natural law 

: a body of law or a specific principle held to be derived from nature and binding upon human society in the absence of or in addition to positive law

Examples of natural law in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The foundation of Maharishi Vedic City is Veda, an ancient Hindu principle that prioritizes harmony, balance and natural law. Jennifer Billock, Smithsonian, "Seven Planned Utopian Towns That You Can Visit Today," 23 May 2018 Even the Catholic Church sees this not as a theological issue but as a matter of natural law, more a subject for philosophers, psychiatrists and scientists than for preachers as such. Garry Wills, New York Times, "The Pious Presidency of Jimmy Carter," 26 Apr. 2018 The worst things imaginable can happen to this guy for no reason at all without violating any natural law. Elif Batuman, The New Yorker, "A Public Defender’s Polyphonic Novel of Football and Social Justice," 30 Apr. 2018 And on Friday, parents began that act that inverts the natural law of the universe: burying their own children., "TIME Health," 17 Feb. 2018 For some, this is merely to repeat a subtle suggestion that what is feminine is particular, while what is masculine is universal and, by extension, the natural law of the land. James Mcauley, Washington Post, "Gatekeepers say gender-neutral pronouns pose ‘deadly danger’ for the French language," 27 Oct. 2017 Economists and businesspeople have played a leading role in the death spiral’s transition to metaphor, converting the individual danger pilots faced into a shorthand for market forces endowed with the inevitability of natural law. Toni Wall Jaudon, The Atlantic, "How to Escape a Death Spiral," 6 Oct. 2017 Relativism prevails, the rules of natural law evaporate, and evil takes root. Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review, "Why the Rosary, Why Now?," 30 Sep. 2017 Love for one another, across difference, is the only natural law here. Tmerrigan, Longreads, "A Short Distance from Southie, but a World Away," 25 Sep. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'natural 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 natural law

15th century, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of natural law was in the 15th century

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natural law


Legal Definition of natural law 

: a body of law or a specific principle of law that is held to be derived from nature and binding upon human society in the absence of or in addition to positive law

Note: While natural law, based on a notion of timeless order, does not receive as much credence as it did formerly, it was an important influence on the enumeration of natural rights by Thomas Jefferson and others.

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evasion of direct action or statement

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