Pronunciation: lạ
n.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.
The law of thy God, and the law of the King.
- Ezra vii. 26.
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.
3.The Jewish or Mosaic code, and that part of Scripture where it is written, in distinction from the gospel; hence, also, the Old Testament.
4.An organic rule, as a constitution or charter, establishing and defining the conditions of the existence of a state or other organized community.
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.
Law is beneficence acting by rule.
- Burke.
10.Trial by the laws of the land; judicial remedy; litigation; as, to go law.
When every case in law is right.
- Shak.
He found law dear and left it cheap.
- Brougham.
11.An oath, as in the presence of a court.
Avogadro's law
(Chem.) a fundamental conception, according to which, under similar conditions of temperature and pressure, all gases and vapors contain in the same volume the same number of ultimate molecules; - so named after Avogadro, an Italian scientist. Sometimes called Ampère's law.
v. t.1.Same as Lawe, v. t.
interj.1.An exclamation of mild surprise.
Noun1.Lawlaw - legal document setting forth rules governing a particular kind of activity; "there is a law against kidnapping"
2.law - the collection of rules imposed by authority; "civilization presupposes respect for the law"; "the great problem for jurisprudence to allow freedom while enforcing order"
Synonyms: jurisprudence
3.law - a generalization that describes recurring facts or events in nature; "the laws of thermodynamics"
Synonyms: law of nature
4.law - a rule or body of rules of conduct inherent in human nature and essential to or binding upon human society
Synonyms: natural law
5.law - the learned profession that is mastered by graduate study in a law school and that is responsible for the judicial system; "he studied law at Yale"
Synonyms: practice of law
6.Lawlaw - the force of policemen and officers; "the law came looking for him"
7.law - the branch of philosophy concerned with the law and the principles that lead courts to make the decisions they do

LAW. In its most general and comprehensive sense, law signifies a rule of action; and this term is applied indiscriminately to all kinds of action; whether animate or inanimate, rational or irrational. 1 Bl. Com. 38. In its more confined sense, law denotes the rule, not of actions in general, but of human action or conduct. In the civil code of Louisiana, art. 1, it is defined to be "a solemn expression of the legislative will." Vide Toull. Dr. Civ. Fr. tit. prel. s. 1, n. 4; 1 Bouv. Inst. n. 1-3.
     2. Law is generally divided into four principle classes, namely; Natural law, the law of nations, public law, and private or civil law. When considered in relation to its origin, it is statute law or common law. When examined as to its different systems it is divided into civil law, common law, canon law. When applied to objects, it is civil, criminal, or penal. It is also divided into natural law and positive law. Into written law, lex scripta; and unwritten law, lex non scripta. Into law merchant, martial law, municipal law, and foreign law. When considered as to their duration, laws are immutable and arbitrary or positive; when as their effect, they are prospective and retrospective. These will be separately considered.

LAW, ARBITRARY. An arbitrary law is one made by the legislator simply because he wills it, and is not founded in the nature of things; such law, for example, as the tariff law, which may be high or low. This term is used in opposition to immutable.

LAW, CANON. The canon law is a body of Roman ecclesiastical law, relative to such matters as that church either has or pretends to have the proper jurisdiction over:
     2. This is compiled from the opinions of the ancient Latin fathers, the decrees of general councils, and the decretal epistles and bulls of the holy see. All which lay in the same confusion and disorder as the Roman civil law, till about the year 1151, when one Gratian, an Italian monk, animated by the discovery of Justinian's Pandects, reduced the ecclesiastical constitutions also into some method, in three books, which he entitled Concordia discordantium canonum, but which are generally known by the name of Decretum Gratiani. These reached as low as the time of Pope Alexander III. The subsequent papal decrees to the pontificate of Gregory IX., were published in much the same method, under the auspices of that pope, about the year 1230, in five books, entitled Decretalia Gregorii noni. A sixth book was added by Boniface VIII., about the year 1298, which is called Sextus decretalium. The Clementine constitution or decrees of Clement V., were in like manner authenticated in 1317, by his successor, John XXII., who also published twenty constitutions of his own, called the Extravagantes Joannis, all of which in some manner answer to the novels of the civil law. To these have since been added some decrees of the later popes, in five books called Extravagantes communes. And all these together, Gratian's Decrees, Gregory's Decretals, the Sixth Decretals, the Clementine Constitutions, and the Extravagants of John and his successors, form the Corpus juris canonici, or body of the Roman canon law. 1 Bl. Com. 82; Encyclopedie, Droit Canonique, Droit Public Ecclesiastique; Dict. de Jurispr. Droit Canonique; Ersk. Pr. L. Scotl. B. 1, t. 1, s. 10. See, in general, Ayl. Par. Jur. Can. Ang.; Shelf. on M. & D. 19; Preface to Burn's Eccl. Law, by Thyrwhitt, 22; Hale's Hist. C. L. 26-29; Bell's Case of a Putative Marriage, 203; Dict. du Droit Canonique; Stair's Inst. b. 1, t. 1, 7.

LAW, CIVIL. The term civil law is generally applied by way of eminence to the civil or municipal law of the Roman empire, without distinction as to the time when the principles of such law were established or modified. In another sense, the civil law is that collection of laws comprised in the institutes, the code, and the digest of the emperor Justinian, and the novel constitutions of himself and some of his successors. Ersk. Pr. L. Scotl. B. 1, t. l, s. 9; 6 L. R. 494.
     2. The Institutes contain the elements or first principles of the Roman law, in four books. The Digests or Pandects are in fifty books, and contain the opinions and writings of eminent lawyers digested in a systematical method, whose works comprised more than two thousand volumes, The new code, or collection of imperial constitutions, in twelve books; which was a substitute for the code of Theodosius. The novels or new constitutions, posterior in time to the other books, and amounting to a supplement to the code, containing new decrees of successive emperors as new questions happened to arise. These form the body of the Roman law, or corpus juris civilis, as published about the time of Justinian.
     3. Although successful in the west, these laws were not, even in the lifetime of the emperor universally received; and after the Lombard invasion they became so totally neglected, that both the Code and Pandects were lost till the twelfth century, A. D. 1130; when it is said the Pandects were accidentally discovered at Amalphi, and the Code at Ravenna. But, as if fortune would make an atonement for her former severity, they have since been the study of the wisest men, and revered as law, by the politest nations.
     4. By the term civil law is also understood the particular law of each people, opposed to natural law, or the law of nations, which are common to all. Just. Inst. l. 1, t. 1, Sec. 1, 2; Ersk. Pr. L. Scot. B. 1, t. 1, s. 4. In this sense it, is used by Judge Swift. See below.
     5. Civil law is also sometimes understood as that which has emanated from the secular power opposed to the ecclesiastical or military.
     6. Sometimes by the term civil law is meant those laws which relate to civil matters only; and in this sense it is opposed to criminal law, or to those laws which concern criminal matters. Vide Civil.
     7. Judge Swift, in his System of the Laws of Connecticut, prefers the term civil law, to that of municipal law. He considers the term municipal to be too limited in its signification. He defines civil law to be a rule of human action, adopted by mankind in a state of society, or prescribed by the supreme power of the government, requiring a course of conduct not repugnant to morality or religion, productive of the greatest political happiness, and prohibiting actions contrary thereto, and which is enforced by the sanctions of pains and penalties. 1 Sw. Syst. 37. See Ayl. Pand. B. 1, t. 2, p. 6.
     See, in general, as to civil law, Cooper's Justinian the Pandects; 1 Bl. Com. 80, 81; Encyclopedie, art. Droit Civil, Droit Romain; Domat, Les Loix Civiles; Ferriere's Dict.; Brown's Civ. Law; Halifax's Analys. Civ. Law; Wood's Civ. Law; Ayliffe's Pandects; Hein. Elem. Juris.; Erskine's Institutes; Pothier; Eunomus, Dial. 1; Corpus Juris Civilis; Taylor's Elem. Civ. Law.

LAW, COMMON. The common law is that which derives its force and authority from the universal consent and immemorial practice of the people. It has never received the sanction of the legislature, by an express act, which is the criterion by which it is distinguished from the statute law. It has never been reduced to writing; by this expression, however, it is not meant that all those laws are at present merely oral, or communicated from former ages to the present solely by word of mouth, but that the evidence of our common law is contained in our books of Reports, and depends on the general practice and judicial adjudications of our courts.
     2. The common law is derived from two sources, the common law of England, and the practice and decision of our own courts. In some states the English common law has been adopted by statute. There is no general rule to ascertain what part of the English common law is valid and binding. To run the line of distinction, is a subject of embarrassment to courts, and the want of it a great perplexity to the student. Kirb. Rep. Pref. It may, however, be observed generally, that it is binding where it has not been superseded by the constitution of the United States, or of the several states, or by their legislative enactments, or varied by custom, and where it is founded in reason and consonant to the genius and manners of the people.
     3. The phrase "common law" occurs in the seventh article of the amendments of the constitution of the United States. "In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall not exceed twenty dollar says that article, "the right of trial by jury shall be preserved. The "common law" here mentioned is the common law of England, and not of any particular state. 1 Gall. 20; 1 Bald. 558; 3 Wheat. 223; 3 Pet. R. 446; 1 Bald. R. 554. The term is used in contradistinction to equity, admiralty, and maritime law. 3 Pet. 446; 1 Bald. 554.
     4. The common law of England is not in all respects to be taken as that of the United States, or of the several states; its general principles are adopted only so far as they are applicable to our situation. 2 Pet, 144; 8 Pet. 659; 9 Cranch, 333; 9 S. & R. 330; 1 Blackf 66, 82, 206; Kirby, 117; 5 Har. & John. 356; 2 Aik. 187; Charlt. 172; 1 Ham. 243. See 5 Cow. 628; 5 Pet. 241; 1 Dall. 67; 1 Mass. 61; 9 Pick. 532; 3 Greenl. 162; 6 Greenl. 55; 3 Gill & John. 62; Sampson's Discourse before the Historical Society of New York; 1 Gallis. R. 489; 3 Conn. R. 114; 2 Dall. 2, 297, 384; 7 Cranch, R. 32; 1 Wheat. R. 415; 3 Wheat. 223; 1 Blackf. R. 205; 8 Pet. R. 658; 5 Cowen, R. 628; 2 Stew. R. 362.

LAW, CRIMINAL. By criminal law is understood that system of laws which provides for the mode of trial of persons charged with criminal offences, defines crimes, and provides for their punishments.

LAW, FOREIGN. By foreign laws are understood the laws of a foreign country. The states of the American Union are for some purposes foreign to each other, and the laws of each are foreign in the others. See Foreign laws.

LAW, INTERNATIONAL. The law of nature applied to the affairs of nations, commonly called the law of nations, jus gentium; is also called by some modern authors international law. Toullier, Droit Francais, tit. rel. Sec. 12. Mann. Comm. 1; Bentham. on Morals, &c., 260, 262; Wheat. on Int. Law; Foelix, Du Droit Intern. Prive, n. 1.

LAW, MARTIAL. Martial law is a code established for the government of the army and navy of the United States.
     2. Its principal rules are to be found in the articles of war. (q.v.) The object of this code, or body of regulations is to, maintain that order and discipline, the fundamental principles of which are a due obedience of the several ranks to their proper officers, a subordination of each rank to their superiors, and the subjection of the whole to certain rules of discipline, essential to their acting with the union and energy of an organized body. The violations of this law are to be tried by a court martial. (q.v.)
     3. A military commander has not the power, by declaring a district to be under martial law, to subject all the citizens to that code, and to suspend the operation of the writ of habeas corpus. 3 Mart. (Lo.) 531. Vide Hale's Hist. C. L. 38; 1 Bl. Com. 413; Tytler on Military Law; Ho. on C. M.; M'Arth. on C. M.; Rules and Articles of War, art. 64, et seq; 2 Story, L. U. S. 1000.

LAW, MERCHANT. A system of customs acknowledged and taken notice of by all commercial nations; and those customs constitute a part of the general law of the land; and being a part of that law their existence cannot be proved by witnesses, but the judges are bound to take notice of them ex officio. See Beawes' Lex Mercatoria Rediviva; Caines' Lex Mercatoria Americana; Com. Dig. Merchant, D; Chit. Comm. Law; Pardess. Droit Commercial; Collection des Lois Maritimes anterieure au dix hutiŠme siŠcle, par Dupin; Capmany, Costumbres Maritimas; II Consolato del Mare; Us et Coutumes de la Mer; Piantandia, Della Giurisprudenze Maritina Commerciale, Antica e Moderna; Valin, Commentaire sur l'Ordonnance de la Marine, du Mois d'Aout, 1681; Boulay-Paty, Dr. Comm.; Boucher, Institutions au Droit Maritime.

LAW, MUNICIPAL. Municipal law is defined by Mr. Justice Blackstone to be "a rule of civil conduct prescribed by the supreme power in a state, commanding what is right and prohibiting what is wrong." This definition has been criticised, and has been perhaps, justly considered imperfect. The latter part has been thought superabundant to the first; see Mr. Christian's note; and the first too general and indefinite, and too limited in its signification to convey a just idea of the subject. See Law, civil. Mr. Chitty defines municipal law to be "a rule of civil conduct, prescribed by the supreme power in a state, commanding what shall be done or what shall not be done." 1 Bl. Com. 44, note 6, Chitty's edit.
     2. Municipal law, among the Romans, was a law made to govern a particular city or province; this term is derived from the Latin municipium, which among them signified a city which was governed by its own laws, and which had its own magistrates.

LAW, PENAL. One which inflicts a penalty for a violation of its enactment.

LAW, POSITIVE. Positive law, as used in opposition to natural law, may be considered in a threefold point of view. 1. The universal voluntary law, or those rules which are presumed to be law, by the uniform practice of nations in general, and by the manifest utility of the rules themselves. 2. The customary law, or that which, from motives of convenience, has, by tacit, but implied agreement, prevailed, not generally indeed among all nations, nor with so permanent a utility as to become a portion of the universal voluntary law, but enough to have acquired a prescriptive obligation among certain states so situated as to be mutually benefited by it. 1 Taunt. 241. 3. The conventional law, or that which is agreed between particular states by express treaty, a law binding on the parties among whom such treaties are in force. 1 Chit. Comm. Law, 28.

LAW, PRIVATE. An act of the legislature which relates to some private matters, which do not concern the public at large.

LAW, PROSPECTIVE. One which provides for, and regulates the future acts of men, and does not interfere in any way with what has past.

LAW, PUBLIC. A public law is one in which all persons have an interest.

LAW, RETROSPECTIVE. A retrospective law is one that is to take effect, in point of time, before it was passed.
     2. Whenever a law of this kind impairs the obligation of contracts, it is void. 3 Dall. 391. But laws which only vary the remedies, divest no right, but merely cure a defect in proceedings otherwise fair, are valid. 10 Serg. & Rawle, 102, 3; 15 Serg. & Rawle, 72. See Ex post facto.

LAW, STATUTE. The written will of the legislature, solemnly expressed according to the forms prescribed by the constitution; an act of the legislature. See Statute.

LAW, UNWRITTEN, or lex non scripta. All the laws which do not come under the definition of written law; it is composed, principally, of the law of nature, the law of nations, the common law, and customs.

LAW, WRITTEN, or lex scripta. This consists of the constitution of the United States the constitutions of the several states the acts of the different legislatures, as the acts of congress, and of the legislatures of the several states, and of treaties. See Statute.

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