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 natural law is ultimately not about human universals but about geographic particulars. Peter Hammond Schwartz, The New Republic, "Originalism Is Dead. Long Live Catholic Natural Law.," 3 Feb. 2021 But the greater popularity of men’s sports right now is not the result of some natural law, like gravity or the diminishing quality of Radiohead albums. Helen Lewis, The Atlantic, "In Search of the First Female Sports Superstar," 13 Sep. 2020 Although Origin didn’t directly tackle the question of human evolution, its description of nature—in which plants and animals evolve according to natural law, without divine guidance—made some readers uncomfortable. Dan Falk, Smithsonian Magazine, "Charles Darwin’s Publisher Didn’t Believe in Evolution, but Sold His Revolutionary Book Anyway," 12 Feb. 2020 This is why the act of counting is the gateway from our subjective, messy world of confused half-truths into the objective, Platonic realm of indisputable facts and natural laws. Charles Seife, Wired, "The Politics of Counting Things Is About to Explode," 21 May 2020 The natural laws of physics force one to flip the bird, switch up oven temperatures, spatchcock it, bard it (drape it with fat), baste it, or do a thousand other silly things. TheWeek, "Chicken en Cocotte: France's one pot solution," 17 May 2020 In an age where even facts are subject to dispute, the superiority of Lincoln is a near-universal truth, a natural law of the land. Sarah Lyall, New York Times, "Sorry, Abe Lincoln Is Not on the Ballot," 16 May 2020 How did self-interest—the pursuit of private happiness—supplant Kant’s dutiful obedience, natural law, the ancient virtues, and the Christian ethic of self-denial? Jeffrey Collins, WSJ, "‘Power, Pleasure, and Profit’ Review: Self-Mastery Versus Self-Interest," 5 Oct. 2018 There’s a taboo quality to the breach of natural laws separating humans and big cats that implies strength, virility, and power. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "Tiger King Is the Most Exploitative Show Netflix Has Made Yet," 7 Apr. 2020

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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Last Updated

19 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Natural law.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for natural law

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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