9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[out-law] /ˈaʊtˌlɔ/
a lawless person or habitual criminal, especially one who is a fugitive from the law.
a person, group, or thing excluded from the benefits and protection of the law.
a person under sentence of outlawry.
a person who refuses to be governed by the established rules or practices of any group; rebel; nonconformist:
one of the outlaws of country music.
Chiefly Western U.S.
  1. a horse that cannot be broken; a mean, intractable horse.
  2. any rogue animal.
verb (used with object)
to make unlawful or illegal:
The Eighteenth Amendment outlawed the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating beverages in the U.S.
to deprive of thebenefits and protection of the law:
Members of guerrilla bands who refused to surrender were outlawed.
to prohibit:
to outlaw smoking in a theater.
to remove from legal jurisdiction; deprive of legal force.
of, relating to, or characteristic of an outlaw.
Origin of outlaw
before 1150; Middle English outlawe, Old English ūtlaga < Old Norse ūtlagi one outside the protection of the law; see out, law1
Related forms
self-outlaw, noun
self-outlawed, adjective
unoutlawed, adjective
1. desperado, bandit, brigand. 8. proscribe, ban, forbid. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for outlaw
  • We dare not make an outlaw of any individual or any group, whatever his or its opinions or professions.
  • Persuading the government to outlaw gold mining was another.
  • He was said to be acutely aware of his status as an outlaw.
  • The government could no more outlaw those goods than it could pants or copper pots.
  • So the government argues that it is perfectly reasonable to outlaw smoking on public-health grounds.
  • Authorities can always outlaw something that is obviously disruptive.
  • One time they were watching a movie on television featuring an outlaw who blasts away with a gun in each hand.
  • Those who chose and choose to stay outside the compact become outlaw.
  • She said she wants lawmakers to outlaw pen guns, which are small-caliber, single-shot weapons that resemble pens.
  • She has played a housewife-turned-outlaw, a pro baseball player and the commander in chief.
British Dictionary definitions for outlaw


(formerly) a person excluded from the law and deprived of its protection
any fugitive from the law, esp a habitual transgressor
a wild or untamed beast
verb (transitive)
to put (a person) outside the law and deprive of its protection
(in the US) to deprive (a contract) of legal force
to ban
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for outlaw

Old English utlaga "one put outside the law" (and thereby deprived of its benefits and protections), from a Scandinavian source, cf. Old Norse utlagi (n.) "outlaw," from utlagr (adj.) "outlawed, banished," from ut "out" (see out (adv.)) + *lagu, plural of lag "law" (see law).

[G]if he man to deaðe gefylle, beo he þonne utlah ["Laws of Edward & Guthrum," c.924]
Meaning "one living a lawless life" is first recorded 1880. As an adjective from Old English.


Old English utlagian "to outlaw, banish," from utlaga "an outlaw" (see outlaw (n.)). Related: Outlawed; outlawing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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