1 SYSTEM OF RULES (singular, uncountable) the whole system of rules that citizens of a country or place must obey: against the law (=illegal): Sex discrimination is against the law. | break the law (=do something illegal): There were easy profits for businessmen who were prepared to break the law. | against the law (for sb) to do sth: It is against the law for children to work before they are fifteen. | become law (=be officially made a law): The Criminal Justice Bill became law amidst much controversy. | by law (=according to the law): Seatbelts must, by law, be worn by all passengers. | keep/stay/remain/operate within the law (=make sure that what you do is legal): They make tough business deals, but are always careful to operate within the law. | tax law/divorce law/libel law etc (=all the laws relating to tax etc): a specialist in company law | She's a partner in a major New York law firm.
-see also: criminal law, law firm
2 A RULE (C) a rule that people in a particular country, city or local area must obey: Under the new law, any gathering of over people is considered a crime.
(+ on): European laws on equal opportunities. (+ against): There ought to be a law against cutting down trees.
3 there's no law against (it) spoken used to tell someone who is criticizing you that you are not doing anything wrong
4 POLICE the law the police: I think she may be in trouble with the law. | I'll have the law on you spoken (=used to threaten someone you will call the police): Get away from my car or I'll have the law on you!
5 law and order a situation in which people respect the law, and crime is controlled by the police, the prison system etc: The soldiers were brought in to restore law and order after the riots.
6 have the law on your side to be legally right in what you are doing
7 SPORT (C) one of the rules that say how a sport should be played: the laws of football.
8 BUSINESS/ART (C) a way in which things happen in an activity such business or art, which is thought of as a rule because it seems impossible to change: the law of supply and demand | the law of perspective
9 NATURAL LAW (C) a statement that describes and explains how nature works: the laws of nature | the Second Law of Thermodynamics. | the law of gravity
10 the law of the jungle
a) the idea that people should only look after themselves and not care about other people, if they want to succeed
b) the principle that only the strongest creatures will stay alive
11 the law of averages the probability that one result will happen as often as another if you try something often enough: By the law of averages you'll have to throw a six eventually.
12 be a law unto himself/herself etc to behave in an independent way and not worry about the usual rules of behaviour or what other people do or think
13 take the law into your own hands to do something illegal in order to put right something that you think is unjust, for example by violently punishing someone instead of informing the police: vigilantes who take the law into their own hands
14 go to law to go to court in order to settle a problem
-see also: civil law, common law 1, common law 2, lay down the law lay 2, poor law, Roman law, Sod's law, unwritten law unwritten

Longman dictionary of contemporary English. 2004.

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