take law into ones own hands


1 [law]
the principles and regulations established in a community by some authority and applicable to its people, whether in the form of legislation or of custom and policies recognized and enforced by judicial decision.
any written or positive rule or collection of rules prescribed under the authority of the state or nation, as by the people in its constitution. Compare bylaw, statute law.
the controlling influence of such rules; the condition of society brought about by their observance: maintaining law and order.
a system or collection of such rules.
the department of knowledge concerned with these rules; jurisprudence: to study law.
the body of such rules concerned with a particular subject or derived from a particular source: commercial law.
an act of the supreme legislative body of a state or nation, as distinguished from the constitution.
the principles applied in the courts of common law, as distinguished from equity.
the profession that deals with law and legal procedure: to practice law.
legal action; litigation: to go to law.
a person, group, or agency acting officially to enforce the law: The law arrived at the scene soon after the alarm went off.
any rule or injunction that must be obeyed: Having a nourishing breakfast was an absolute law in our household.
a rule or principle of proper conduct sanctioned by conscience, concepts of natural justice, or the will of a deity: a moral law.
a rule or manner of behavior that is instinctive or spontaneous: the law of self-preservation.
a statement of a relation or sequence of phenomena invariable under the same conditions.
a mathematical rule.
a principle based on the predictable consequences of an act, condition, etc.: the law of supply and demand.
a rule, principle, or convention regarded as governing the structure or the relationship of an element in the structure of something, as of a language or work of art: the laws of playwriting; the laws of grammar.
a commandment or a revelation from God.
(sometimes initial capital letter) a divinely appointed order or system.
the Law, Law of Moses.
the preceptive part of the Bible, especially of the new testament, in contradistinction to its promises: the law of Christ.
British Sports. an allowance of time or distance given a quarry or competitor in a race, as the head start given a fox before the hounds are set after it.
verb (used with object)
Chiefly Dialect. to sue or prosecute.
British. (formerly) to expeditate (an animal).
be a law to/unto oneself, to follow one's own inclinations, rules of behavior, etc.; act independently or unconventionally, especially without regard for established mores.
lay down the law,
to state one's views authoritatively.
to give a command in an imperious manner: The manager laid down the law to the workers.
take the law into one's own hands, to administer justice as one sees fit without recourse to the usual law enforcement or legal processes: The townspeople took the law into their own hands before the sheriff took action.

before 1000; Middle English law(e), lagh(e), Old English lagu < Old Norse *lagu, early plural of lag layer, stratum, a laying in order, fixed tune, (in collective sense) law; akin to lay1, lie2

lawlike, adjective

law, hypothesis, theory (see synonym study at theory).
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
law1 (lɔː)
1.  a rule or set of rules, enforceable by the courts, regulating the government of a state, the relationship between the organs of government and the subjects of the state, and the relationship or conduct of subjects towards each other
2.  a.  See statute law a rule or body of rules made by the legislature
 b.  See bylaw a rule or body of rules made by a municipal or other authority
3.  a.  the condition and control enforced by such rules
 b.  (in combination): lawcourt
4.  a rule of conduct: a law of etiquette
5.  one of a set of rules governing a particular field of activity: the laws of tennis
6.  the law
 a.  the legal or judicial system
 b.  the profession or practice of law
 c.  informal the police or a policeman
7.  a binding force or statement: his word is law
8.  Also called: law of nature a generalization based on a recurring fact or event
9.  the science or knowledge of law; jurisprudence
10.  Compare equity the principles originating and formerly applied only in courts of common law
11.  a general principle, formula, or rule describing a phenomenon in mathematics, science, philosophy, etc: the laws of thermodynamics
12.  (capital) Judaism the Law
 a.  short for Law of Moses
 b.  the English term for Torah Oral Law See also Written Law
13.  a law unto itself, a law unto himself a person or thing that is outside established laws
14.  go to law to resort to legal proceedings on some matter
15.  lay down the law to speak in an authoritative or dogmatic manner
16.  Judaism reading the Law, reading of the Law that part of the morning service on Sabbaths, festivals, and Mondays and Thursdays during which a passage is read from the Torah scrolls
17.  take the law into one's own hands to ignore or bypass the law when redressing a grievance
Related: judicial, jural, juridical, legal
[Old English lagu, from Scandinavian; compare Icelandic lög (pl) things laid down, law]

law2 (lɔː)
(Scot) a hill, esp one rounded in shape
[Old English hlǣw]

law3 (lɔː)
a Scot word for low

Law (lɔː)
1.  Andrew Bonar (ˈbɒnə). 1858--1923, British Conservative statesman, born in Canada; prime minister (1922--23)
2.  Denis. born 1940, Scottish footballer and television and radio commentator on the sport
3.  John. 1671--1729, Scottish financier. He founded the first bank in France (1716) and the Mississippi Scheme for the development of Louisiana (1717), which collapsed due to excessive speculation
4.  Jude. born 1972, British film actor, who starred in The Talented Mr Ripley (1999) and Cold Mountain (2003).
5.  William. 1686--1761, British Anglican divine, best known for A Serious Call to a Holy and Devout Life (1728)

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. lagu (pl. laga, comb. form lah-), from O.N. *lagu "law," collective pl. of lag "layer, measure, stroke," lit. "something laid down or fixed," from P.Gmc. *lagan "put, lay" (see lay (v.)). Replaced O.E. æ and gesetnes, which had the same sense development as law. Cf.
also statute, from L. statuere; Ger. Gesetz "law," from O.H.G. gisatzida; Lith. istatymas, from istatyti "set up, establish." Law and order have been coupled since 1796.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

law (lô)

  1. A rule of conduct or procedure established by custom, agreement, or authority.

  2. A set of rules or principles for a specific area of a legal system.

  3. A piece of enacted legislation.

  4. A formulation describing a relationship observed to be invariable between or among phenomena for all cases in which the specified conditions are met.

  5. A generalization based on consistent experience or results.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
law   (lô)  Pronunciation Key 
A statement that describes invariable relationships among phenomena under a specified set of conditions. Boyle's law, for instance, describes what will happen to the volume of an ideal gas if its pressure changes and its temperature remains the same. The conditions under which some physical laws hold are idealized (for example, there are no ideal gases in the real world), thus some physical laws apply universally but only approximately. See Note at hypothesis.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Bible Dictionary

Law definition

a rule of action. (1.) The Law of Nature is the will of God as to human conduct, founded on the moral difference of things, and discoverable by natural light (Rom. 1:20; 2:14, 15). This law binds all men at all times. It is generally designated by the term conscience, or the capacity of being influenced by the moral relations of things. (2.) The Ceremonial Law prescribes under the Old Testament the rites and ceremonies of worship. This law was obligatory only till Christ, of whom these rites were typical, had finished his work (Heb. 7:9, 11; 10:1; Eph. 2:16). It was fulfilled rather than abrogated by the gospel. (3.) The Judicial Law, the law which directed the civil policy of the Hebrew nation. (4.) The Moral Law is the revealed will of God as to human conduct, binding on all men to the end of time. It was promulgated at Sinai. It is perfect (Ps. 19:7), perpetual (Matt. 5:17, 18), holy (Rom. 7:12), good, spiritual (14), and exceeding broad (Ps. 119:96). Although binding on all, we are not under it as a covenant of works (Gal. 3:17). (See COMMANDMENTS.) (5.) Positive Laws are precepts founded only on the will of God. They are right because God commands them. (6.) Moral positive laws are commanded by God because they are right.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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