I. noun Etymology: Middle English, from Old English lagu, of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse lǫg law; akin to Old English licgan to lie — more at lie Date: before 12th century 1. a. (1) a binding custom or practice of a community ; a rule of conduct or action prescribed or formally recognized as binding or enforced by a controlling authority (2) the whole body of such customs, practices, or rules (3) common law b. (1) the control brought about by the existence or enforcement of such law (2) the action of laws considered as a means of redressing wrongs; also litigation (3) the agency of or an agent of established law c. a rule or order that it is advisable or obligatory to observe d. something compatible with or enforceable by established law e. control, authority 2. a. often capitalized the revelation of the will of God set forth in the Old Testament b. capitalized the first part of the Jewish scriptures ; Pentateuch, Torah — see bible table 3. a rule of construction or procedure <
the laws of poetry
4. the whole body of laws relating to one subject 5. a. the legal profession b. law as a department of knowledge ; jurisprudence c. legal knowledge 6. a. a statement of an order or relation of phenomena that so far as is known is invariable under the given conditions b. a general relation proved or assumed to hold between mathematical or logical expressions Synonyms: law, rule, regulation, precept, statute, ordinance, canon mean a principle governing action or procedure. law implies imposition by a sovereign authority and the obligation of obedience on the part of all subject to that authority <
obey the law
. rule applies to more restricted or specific situations <
the rules of the game
. regulation implies prescription by authority in order to control an organization or system <
regulations affecting nuclear power plants
. precept commonly suggests something advisory and not obligatory communicated typically through teaching <
the precepts of effective writing
. statute implies a law enacted by a legislative body <
a statute requiring the use of seat belts
. ordinance applies to an order governing some detail of procedure or conduct enforced by a limited authority such as a municipality <
a city ordinance
. canon suggests in nonreligious use a principle or rule of behavior or procedure commonly accepted as a valid guide <
the canons of good taste
. Synonym: see in addition hypothesis. II. verb Date: circa 1550 intransitive verb litigate transitive verb chiefly dialect to sue or prosecute at law

New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.

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