system of rules
1 (also the law) [U] the whole system of rules that everyone in a country or society must obey:
If they entered the building they would be breaking the law. * In Sweden it is against the law to hit a child. * Defence attorneys can use any means within the law to get their client off. * British schools are now required by law to publish their exam results. * The reforms have recently become law. * Do not think you are above the law (= think that you cannot be punished by the law). * the need for better law enforcement * (humorous) Kate's word was law in the Brown household.
2 [U] a particular branch of the law:
company / tax law * He specializes in international law.
see also CANON LAW, CASE LAW, CIVIL LAW, COMMON LAW, PRIVATE LAW, STATUTE LAW
3 [C] ~ (on sth) | ~ (against sth) a rule that deals with a particular crime, agreement, etc:
the 1996 law against the hiring of illegal immigrants * The government has introduced some tough new laws on food hygiene. * strict gun / licensing laws * a federal / state law * to pass a law (= officially make it part of the law) * (spoken) There ought to be a law against it!
see also BY-LAW, LICENSING LAWS
subject / profession
4 [U] the study of the law as a subject at university, etc.; the profession of being a lawyer:
Jane is studying law. * (AmE) He's in law school. * (BrE) He's at law school. * What made you go into law? * a law firm
5 (the law) [sing.] used to refer to the police and the legal system:
Jim is always getting into trouble with the law. * She was well known for her brushes with the law.
of organization / activity
6 [C] one of the rules which controls an organization or activity:
the laws of the Church * The first law of kung fu is to defend. * the laws of cricket * the laws of war
of good behaviour
7 [C] a rule for good behaviour or how you should behave in a particular place or situation:
moral laws * the unspoken laws of the street
in business / nature / science
8 [C] the fact that sth always happens in the same way in an activity or in nature:
the laws of supply and demand * the law of gravity
9 [C] a scientific rule that sb has stated to explain a natural process:
the first law of thermodynamics
see also MURPHY'S LAW, PARKINSON'S LAW, SOD'S LAW, LEGAL, LEGALIZE, LEGISLATE
be a law unto yourself to behave in an independent way and ignore rules or what other people want you to do:
Boys of that age are a law unto themselves.
go to law (BrE) to ask a court of law to settle a problem or disagreement:
They went to law to get back their property.
law and order a situation in which people obey the law and behave in a peaceful way:
The government struggled to maintain law and order. * After the riots, the military was brought in to restore law and order. * They claim to be the party of law and order.
the law of averages the principle that one thing will happen as often as another if you try enough times:
Keep applying and by the law of averages you'll get a job sooner or later.
the law of the jungle a situation in which people are prepared to harm other people in order to succeed:
These criminal gangs only recognize the law of the jungle.
lay down the law to tell sb what they should or should not do, in a forceful way:
My dad started laying down the law about what time I should come home.
take the law into your own hands to do sth illegal in order to punish sb for doing sth wrong, instead of letting the police deal with them:
After a series of burglaries in the area, the police are worried that residents might take the law into their own hands.
there's no law against sth (spoken) used to tell sb who is criticizing you that you are not doing anything wrong:
I'll sing if I want to-there's no law against it.
more at LETTER n., RULE n., WRONG adj.
Md. Shahnewaz Zwaki Advocate The Supreme Court of Bangladesh (High Court Division).