Definition of Law

The Canada social science dictionary [1] provides the following meaning of Law: A body of rules or norms passed by a legislated authority and enforced by an authorized and specialized body. Law clearly identifies the defining characteristic of the state – the ability to establish and legitimately use coercion to enforce a framework of social regulation and direction. The state, by passing law and having the authority to force compliance, can coerce citizens to act in particular ways (or leave the country). Not all societies have law. While all large-scale, modern societies have law it was not found among hunter-gatherer, pastoral or horticultural societies. In these societies social life was regulated primarily by custom and tradition.

Law in Law Enforcement

Main Entry: Law Enforcement in the Legal Dictionary. This section provides, in the context of Law Enforcement, a partial definition of law.

Meaning of Law in the U.S. Legal System

Definition of Law published by the National Association for Court Management: The combination of those rules and principles of conduct promulgated by legislative authority, derived from court decisions and established by local custom.

Synonyms of Law

  • practice of law
  • natural law
  • law of nature
  • jurisprudence, legal philosophy
  • constabulary, police, police force
  • jurisprudence, case law

Law triggers

  • enforcement
  • court
  • case
  • justice
  • laws
  • crime
  • legal
  • firm
  • attorney
  • rights
  • criminal
  • lawyer
  • lawyers
  • cases
  • gun
  • federal
  • illegal
  • courts
  • officers
  • state
  • penalty
  • abiding
  • kevorkian
  • judges
  • criminals
  • constitution
  • amendment
  • statute
  • professor
  • guns
  • crimes
  • constitutional
  • should

Law is a kind of

  • force
  • learned profession
  • personnel
  • philosophy
  • prescript
  • rule

Law is more general than

  • administrative law
  • admiralty law
  • all-or-none law
  • bernoulli’s law
  • blue law
  • blue sky law
  • boyle’s law
  • canon law
  • charles’ law
  • civil law
  • commercial law
  • dalton’s law
  • dalton’s law of partial pressures
  • divine law
  • ecclesiastical law
  • exclusion principle
  • fundamental law
  • gay-lussac’s law
  • gendarmerie
  • gendarmery
  • gresham’s law
  • homestead law
  • international law
  • kepler’s law
  • kepler’s law of planetary motion
  • law merchant
  • law of averages
  • law of constant proportion
  • law of definite proportions
  • law of diminishing returns
  • law of effect
  • law of equivalent proportions
  • law of gravitation
  • law of large numbers
  • law of mass action
  • law of motion
  • law of multiple proportions
  • law of nations
  • law of partial pressures
  • law of reciprocal proportions
  • law of the land
  • law of volumes
  • laws of moses
  • mariotte’s law
  • maritime law
  • martial law
  • mendeleev’s law
  • mendel’s law
  • mercantile law
  • mosaic law
  • new scotland yard
  • organic law
  • poor law
  • principle
  • prohibition
  • public law
  • riot act
  • secret police
  • securities law
  • sound law
  • statute of limitations
  • statutory law


This term is a verb.

Etimology of Law

(You may find law at the world legal encyclopedia and the etimology of more terms).

1640s, “to litigate,” from law; this term is also a noun. Old English had lagian “make a law, ordain.” Related: Lawed; lawing.; this term is also a noun.

Etimology of the Term

(You may find law at the world legal encyclopedia and the etimology of more terms).

Old English lagu (plural laga, combining form lah-) “ordinance, rule prescribed by authority, regulation; district governed by the same laws;” also sometimes “right, legal privilege,” from Old Norse *lagu “law,” collective plural of lag “layer, measure, stroke,” literally “something laid down, that which is fixed or set” from Proto-Germanic *lagam “put, lay,” from PIE root *legh- “to lie, lay” (see lay (verb)). Identical with lay (n.2) as “that which is set or established.” Rare in Old English, it ousted the more usual ae and also gesetnes, which also were etymologically “something placed or set.” Compare also statute, from Latin statuere; German Gesetz “law,” from Old High German gisatzida; Lithuanian istatymas, from istatyti “set up, establish.” In physics, “a proposition which expresses the regular order of things,” from 1660s. Law and order have been coupled since 1796. To lay down the law (1752) is pleonastic (the “law” in the figure is biblical law, laid down from the pulpit). Poor laws provided for the support of paupers at public expense; sumptuary laws restrained excesses in apparel, food, or luxuries. It is more common for Indo-European languages to use different words for “a specific law” and for “law” in the general sense of “institution or body of laws,” for example Latin lex “a law,” ius “a right,” especially “legal right, law.” Words for “a law” are most commonly from verbs for “to put, place, set, lay,” such as Greek thesmos (from tithemi “to put, place”), Old English dom (from PIE *dhe- “to put, place, set”), Lithuanian istatymas (from statyti “cause to stand, set”), Polish ustawa (from sta_ “stand”). Words for “law” in the general sense mostly mean etymologically “what is right” and often are connected with adjectives for “right” (themselves often figurative uses of words for “straight,” “upright,” “true,” “fitting,” or “usage, custom.” Such are Greek nomos (numismatic); French droit, Spanish derecho, from Latin directus; Polish prawo, Russian pravo (from Old Church Slavonic prav_ “straight,” in the daughter languages “right”); also Old Norse rettr, Old English riht, Dutch recht, German Recht (see right (adj.1)).


Legal English Vocabulary: Law in Spanish

Online translation of the English legal term law into Spanish: DERECHO (English to Spanish translation) . More about legal dictionary from english to spanish online.

Related to the Legal Thesaurus


Notes and References

  1. Drislane, R., & Parkinson, G. (2016). (Concept of) Law. Online dictionary of the social sciences. Open University of Canada

See Also

  • Law Enforcement Officer
  • Police Work
  • Law Enforcement Agency

Further Reading

Definition of Law

In relation to social issues, a meaning of law is provided here: a set of rules, issued and enforced by a government that binds every member of society.

Law (Judicial Function)




See Also

  • Law
  • Rule of Law
  • Law System
  • Legislation


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