Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
The Collaborative International Dictionary
Law \Law\ (l[add]), n. [OE. lawe, laghe, AS. lagu, from the root of E. lie: akin to OS. lag, Icel. l["o]g, Sw. lag, Dan. lov; cf. L. lex, E. legal. A law is that which is laid, set, or fixed; like statute, fr. L. statuere to make to stand. See Lie to be prostrate.]
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.
Note: A law may be universal or particular, written or unwritten, published or secret. From the nature of the highest laws a degree of permanency or stability is always implied; but the power which makes a law, or a superior power, may annul or change it.
These are the statutes and judgments and laws, which the Lord made.
--Lev. xxvi. 46.
The law of thy God, and the law of the King.
--Ezra vii. 26.
As if they would confine the Interminable . . . Who made our laws to bind us, not himself.
His mind his kingdom, and his will his law.
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.
The Jewish or Mosaic code, and that part of Scripture where it is written, in distinction from the gospel; hence, also, the Old Testament. Specifically: the first five books of the bible, called also Torah, Pentatech, or Law of Moses.
What things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law . . . But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets.
--Rom. iii. 19, 21.
In human government:
An organic rule, as a constitution or charter, establishing and defining the conditions of the existence of a state or other organized community.
Any edict, decree, order, ordinance, statute, resolution, judicial, decision, usage, etc., or recognized, and enforced, by the controlling authority.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Legal science; jurisprudence; the principles of equity; applied justice.
Reason is the life of the law; nay, the common law itself is nothing else but reason.
Law is beneficence acting by rule.
And sovereign Law, that state's collected will O'er thrones and globes elate, Sits empress, crowning good, repressing ill.
--Sir W. Jones.
Trial by the laws of the land; judicial remedy; litigation; as, to go law.
When every case in law is right.
He found law dear and left it cheap.
An oath, as in the presence of a court. [Obs.] See Wager of law, under Wager. 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 Amp[`e]re's law. Bode's law (Astron.), an approximative empirical expression of the distances of the planets from the sun, as follows: -- Mer. Ven. Earth. Mars. Aste. Jup. Sat. Uran. Nep. 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 0 3 6 12 24 48 96 192 384 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --- --- 4 7 10 16 28 52 100 196 388 5.9 7.3 10 15.2 27.4 52 95.4 192 300 where each distance (line third) is the sum of 4 and a multiple of 3 by the series 0, 1, 2, 4, 8, etc., the true distances being given in the lower line. Boyle's law (Physics), an expression of the fact, that when an elastic fluid is subjected to compression, and kept at a constant temperature, the product of the pressure and volume is a constant quantity, i. e., the volume is inversely proportioned to the pressure; -- known also as Mariotte's law, and the law of Boyle and Mariotte. Brehon laws. See under Brehon. Canon law, the body of ecclesiastical law adopted in the Christian Church, certain portions of which (for example, the law of marriage as existing before the Council of Tent) were brought to America by the English colonists as part of the common law of the land. --Wharton. Civil law, a term used by writers to designate Roman law, with modifications thereof which have been made in the different countries into which that law has been introduced. The civil law, instead of the common law, prevails in the State of Louisiana. --Wharton. Commercial law. See Law merchant (below). Common law. See under Common. Criminal law, that branch of jurisprudence which relates to crimes. Ecclesiastical law. See under Ecclesiastical. Grimm's law (Philol.), a statement (propounded by the German philologist Jacob Grimm) of certain regular changes which the primitive Indo-European mute consonants, so-called (most plainly seen in Sanskrit and, with some changes, in Greek and Latin), have undergone in the Teutonic languages. Examples: Skr. bh[=a]t[.r], L. frater, E. brother, G. bruder; L. tres, E. three, G. drei, Skr. go, E. cow, G. kuh; Skr. dh[=a] to put, Gr. ti-qe`-nai, E. do, OHG, tuon, G. thun. See also lautverschiebung. Kepler's laws (Astron.), three important laws or expressions of the order of the planetary motions, discovered by John Kepler. They are these: (1) The orbit of a planet with respect to the sun is an ellipse, the sun being in one of the foci. (2) The areas swept over by a vector drawn from the sun to a planet are proportioned to the times of describing them. (3) The squares of the times of revolution of two planets are in the ratio of the cubes of their mean distances. Law binding, a plain style of leather binding, used for law books; -- called also law calf. Law book, a book containing, or treating of, laws. Law calf. See Law binding (above). Law day. (a) Formerly, a day of holding court, esp. a court-leet. (b) The day named in a mortgage for the payment of the money to secure which it was given. [U. S.] Law French, the dialect of Norman, which was used in judicial proceedings and law books in England from the days of William the Conqueror to the thirty-sixth year of Edward III. Law language, the language used in legal writings and forms. Law Latin. See under Latin. Law lords, peers in the British Parliament who have held high judicial office, or have been noted in the legal profession. Law merchant, or Commercial law, a system of rules by which trade and commerce are regulated; -- deduced from the custom of merchants, and regulated by judicial decisions, as also by enactments of legislatures. Law of Charles (Physics), the law that the volume of a given mass of gas increases or decreases, by a definite fraction of its value for a given rise or fall of temperature; -- sometimes less correctly styled Gay Lussac's law, or Dalton's law. Law of nations. See International law, under International. Law of nature. (a) A broad generalization expressive of the constant action, or effect, of natural conditions; as, death is a law of nature; self-defense is a law of nature. See Law, 4. (b) A term denoting the standard, or system, of morality deducible from a study of the nature and natural relations of human beings independent of supernatural revelation or of municipal and social usages. Law of the land, due process of law; the general law of the land. Laws of honor. See under Honor. Laws of motion (Physics), three laws defined by Sir Isaac Newton: (1) Every body perseveres in its state of rest or of moving uniformly in a straight line, except so far as it is made to change that state by external force. (2) Change of motion is proportional to the impressed force, and takes place in the direction in which the force is impressed. (3) Reaction is always equal and opposite to action, that is to say, the actions of two bodies upon each other are always equal and in opposite directions. Marine law, or Maritime law, the law of the sea; a branch of the law merchant relating to the affairs of the sea, such as seamen, ships, shipping, navigation, and the like. --Bouvier. Mariotte's law. See Boyle's law (above). Martial law.See under Martial. Military law, a branch of the general municipal law, consisting of rules ordained for the government of the military force of a state in peace and war, and administered in courts martial. --Kent. --Warren's Blackstone. Moral law, the law of duty as regards what is right and wrong in the sight of God; specifically, the ten commandments given by Moses. See Law, 2. Mosaic law, or Ceremonial law. (Script.) See Law, 3. Municipal law, or Positive law, a rule prescribed by the supreme power of a state, declaring some right, enforcing some duty, or prohibiting some act; -- distinguished from international law and constitutional law. See Law,
Periodic law. (Chem.) See under Periodic.
Roman law, the system of principles and laws found in the codes and treatises of the lawmakers and jurists of ancient Rome, and incorporated more or less into the laws of the several European countries and colonies founded by them. See Civil law (above).
Statute law, the law as stated in statutes or positive enactments of the legislative body.
Sumptuary law. See under Sumptuary.
To go to law, to seek a settlement of any matter by bringing it before the courts of law; to sue or prosecute some one.
To take the law of, or To have the law of, to bring the law to bear upon; as, to take the law of one's neighbor.
Wager of law. See under Wager.
Syn: Justice; equity.
Usage: Law, Statute, Common law, Regulation, Edict, Decree. Law is generic, and, when used with reference to, or in connection with, the other words here considered, denotes whatever is commanded by one who has a right to require obedience. A statute is a particular law drawn out in form, and distinctly enacted and proclaimed. Common law is a rule of action founded on long usage and the decisions of courts of justice. A regulation is a limited and often, temporary law, intended to secure some particular end or object. An edict is a command or law issued by a sovereign, and is peculiar to a despotic government. A decree is a permanent order either of a court or of the executive government. See Justice.
Common \Com"mon\, a. [Compar. Commoner; superl. Commonest.] [OE. commun, comon, OF. comun, F. commun, fr. L. communis; com- + munis ready to be of service; cf. Skr. mi to make fast, set up, build, Goth. gamains common, G. gemein, and E. mean low, common. Cf. Immunity, Commune, n. & v.]
Belonging or relating equally, or similarly, to more than one; as, you and I have a common interest in the property.
Though life and sense be common to men and brutes.
--Sir M. Hale.
Belonging to or shared by, affecting or serving, all the members of a class, considered together; general; public; as, properties common to all plants; the common schools; the Book of Common Prayer.
Such actions as the common good requireth.
The common enemy of man.
Often met with; usual; frequent; customary.
Grief more than common grief.
Not distinguished or exceptional; inconspicuous; ordinary; plebeian; -- often in a depreciatory sense.
The honest, heart-felt enjoyment of common life.
This fact was infamous And ill beseeming any common man, Much more a knight, a captain and a leader.
Above the vulgar flight of common souls.
Profane; polluted. [Obs.]
What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
--Acts x. 15.
Given to habits of lewdness; prostitute. A dame who herself was common. --L'Estrange. Common bar (Law) Same as Blank bar, under Blank. Common barrator (Law), one who makes a business of instigating litigation. Common Bench, a name sometimes given to the English Court of Common Pleas. Common brawler (Law), one addicted to public brawling and quarreling. See Brawler. Common carrier (Law), one who undertakes the office of carrying (goods or persons) for hire. Such a carrier is bound to carry in all cases when he has accommodation, and when his fixed price is tendered, and he is liable for all losses and injuries to the goods, except those which happen in consequence of the act of God, or of the enemies of the country, or of the owner of the property himself. Common chord (Mus.), a chord consisting of the fundamental tone, with its third and fifth. Common council, the representative (legislative) body, or the lower branch of the representative body, of a city or other municipal corporation. Common crier, the crier of a town or city. Common divisor (Math.), a number or quantity that divides two or more numbers or quantities without a remainder; a common measure. Common gender (Gram.), the gender comprising words that may be of either the masculine or the feminine gender. Common law, a system of jurisprudence developing under the guidance of the courts so as to apply a consistent and reasonable rule to each litigated case. It may be superseded by statute, but unless superseded it controls. --Wharton. Note: It is by others defined as the unwritten law (especially of England), the law that receives its binding force from immemorial usage and universal reception, as ascertained and expressed in the judgments of the courts. This term is often used in contradistinction from statute law. Many use it to designate a law common to the whole country. It is also used to designate the whole body of English (or other) law, as distinguished from its subdivisions, local, civil, admiralty, equity, etc. See Law. Common lawyer, one versed in common law. Common lewdness (Law), the habitual performance of lewd acts in public. Common multiple (Arith.) See under Multiple. Common noun (Gram.), the name of any one of a class of objects, as distinguished from a proper noun (the name of a particular person or thing). Common nuisance (Law), that which is deleterious to the health or comfort or sense of decency of the community at large. Common pleas, one of the three superior courts of common law at Westminster, presided over by a chief justice and four puisne judges. Its jurisdiction is confined to civil matters. Courts bearing this title exist in several of the United States, having, however, in some cases, both civil and criminal jurisdiction extending over the whole State. In other States the jurisdiction of the common pleas is limited to a county, and it is sometimes called a county court. Its powers are generally defined by statute. Common prayer, the liturgy of the Church of England, or of the Protestant Episcopal church of the United States, which all its clergy are enjoined to use. It is contained in the Book of Common Prayer. Common school, a school maintained at the public expense, and open to all. Common scold (Law), a woman addicted to scolding indiscriminately, in public. Common seal, a seal adopted and used by a corporation. Common sense.
A supposed sense which was held to be the common bond of all the others. [Obs.]
Sound judgment. See under Sense.
Common time (Mus.), that variety of time in which the measure consists of two or of four equal portions.
In common, equally with another, or with others; owned, shared, or used, in community with others; affecting or affected equally.
Out of the common, uncommon; extraordinary.
Tenant in common, one holding real or personal property in common with others, having distinct but undivided interests. See Joint tenant, under Joint.
To make common cause with, to join or ally one's self with.
Syn: General; public; popular; national; universal; frequent; ordinary; customary; usual; familiar; habitual; vulgar; mean; trite; stale; threadbare; commonplace. See Mutual, Ordinary, General.
Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary
mid-14c., "the customary and unwritten laws of England as embodied in commentaries and old cases" (see common (adj.)), as opposed to statute law. Phrase common law marriage is attested from 1909.
alt. 1 (context legal English) law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals (also called case law), as distinguished from statute law or regulations promulgated by the executive branch. 2 (context legal archaic English) One of two legal systems in England and in the United States before 1938 (the other being equity). 3 (&lit common law English) n. 1 (context legal English) law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals (also called case law), as distinguished from statute law or regulations promulgated by the executive branch. 2 (context legal archaic English) One of two legal systems in England and in the United States before 1938 (the other being equity). 3 (&lit common law English)
a system of jurisprudence based on judicial precedents rather than statutory laws; "common law originated in the unwritten laws of England and was later applied in the United States" [syn: case law, precedent]
A common law legal system is characterized by case law developed by judges, courts, and similar tribunals, when giving decisions in individual cases that have precedential effect on future cases. The body of past common law binds judges deciding later cases to ensure consistent treatment and so that consistent principles applied to similar facts yield similar outcomes. In common law cases, where the parties disagree on what the law is, the court is usually bound to follow the reasoning used in past decisions of relevant courts. If the court finds that the current dispute is fundamentally distinct from previous cases, judges have the authority and duty to make law by creating precedent. Thereafter, the new decision becomes precedent, and will bind future courts. Stare decisis, the principle that cases should be decided according to consistent principled rules so that similar facts will yield similar results, lies at the heart of common law systems, but connotations of the term "common law" vary according to context, both in present-day use and historically.
Common law originated during the Middle Ages in England, and from there was propagated to the colonies of the British Empire, including India, the United States (both the federal system and all, except Louisiana, of the 50 states), Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Canada (and all its provinces except Quebec), Malaysia, Ghana, Australia, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Singapore, Burma, Ireland, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Cyprus, Barbados, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Namibia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Botswana, Guyana, and Fiji. Today, one third of the world's population live in common law jurisdictions or in systems mixed with civil law.
The development of case law in common law jurisdictions relies on the publication of notable judgments in the form of law reports for use by lawyers, courts and the general public, including those judgments which, when delivered or later, are accepted as being "leading cases" or "landmark decisions". The records, commentaries, writings by jurists and historians, and text-books on pleading, show that from the establishment of the common law courts in the thirteenth century to statutory reforms in the nineteenth century, the development of case law was constrained by the common law "forms of action".
Common law is a legal system named after judge-made law, which plays important role in it.
Common law may also refer to:
- Common-law marriage
- Jus commune, a type of broad, underlying law
- Common Law (1996 TV series), a United States sitcom by ABC
- Common Law (2012 TV series), a United States comedy-drama by the USA Network
- The Common Law (film), 1931 American film
- The Common Law (Holmes), a book by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
Common Law is an American television sitcom that premiered on ABC on September 28, 1996. The show stars Greg Giraldo as a Latino lawyer at a mostly white law firm. The series was created by Rob LaZebnik, and produced by Witt/Thomas Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television.
Due to low ratings, the series was pulled from ABC's schedule after four episodes had aired.
Common Law is an American comedy-drama television series, which ran on USA Network from May 11 to August 10, 2012, and stars Michael Ealy and Warren Kole as two Los Angeles Police Department detectives who can't stand each other and are ordered to see a couples therapist to remedy the situation.
The series was created by Cormac and Marianne Wibberley and was produced by CBS Television Studios and Junction Entertainment. While originally planned to premiere on January 26, 2012, the series was pushed back until summer 2012. The series premiered following Fairly Legal on Friday, May 11, 2012. The show was canceled by the USA Network after one season and 12 episodes on October 31, 2012, due to low ratings.