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law    : [l'ɔ] [l'ɑ]
Law \Law\ (l[add]), n. [OE. lawe, laghe, AS. lagu, from the root
of E. lie: akin to OS. lag, Icel. l["o]g, Sw. lag, Dan. lov;
cf. L. lex, E. legal. A law is that which is laid, set, or
fixed; like statute, fr. L. statuere to make to stand. See
{Lie} to be prostrate.]
1. In general, a rule of being or of conduct, established by
an authority able to enforce its will; a controlling
regulation; the mode or order according to which an agent
or a power acts.
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Note: A law may be universal or particular, written or
unwritten, published or secret. From the nature of the
highest laws a degree of permanency or stability is
always implied; but the power which makes a law, or a
superior power, may annul or change it.
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These are the statutes and judgments and laws,
which the Lord made. --Lev. xxvi.
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The law of thy God, and the law of the King.
--Ezra vii.
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As if they would confine the Interminable . . .
Who made our laws to bind us, not himself.
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His mind his kingdom, and his will his law.
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2. In morals: The will of God as the rule for the disposition
and conduct of all responsible beings toward him and
toward each other; a rule of living, conformable to
righteousness; the rule of action as obligatory on the
conscience or moral nature.
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3. The Jewish or Mosaic code, and that part of Scripture
where it is written, in distinction from the {gospel};
hence, also, the Old Testament. Specifically: the first
five books of the bible, called also {Torah}, {Pentatech},
or {Law of Moses}.
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What things soever the law saith, it saith to them
who are under the law . . . But now the
righteousness of God without the law is manifested,
being witnessed by the law and the prophets. --Rom.
iii. 19, 21.
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4. In human government:
(a) An organic rule, as a constitution or charter,
establishing and defining the conditions of the
existence of a state or other organized community.
(b) Any edict, decree, order, ordinance, statute,
resolution, judicial, decision, usage, etc., or
recognized, and enforced, by the controlling
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5. In philosophy and physics: A rule of being, operation, or
change, so certain and constant that it is conceived of as
imposed by the will of God or by some controlling
authority; as, the law of gravitation; the laws of motion;
the law heredity; the laws of thought; the laws of cause
and effect; law of self-preservation.
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6. In mathematics: The rule according to which anything, as
the change of value of a variable, or the value of the
terms of a series, proceeds; mode or order of sequence.
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7. In arts, works, games, etc.: The rules of construction, or
of procedure, conforming to the conditions of success; a
principle, maxim; or usage; as, the laws of poetry, of
architecture, of courtesy, or of whist.
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8. Collectively, the whole body of rules relating to one
subject, or emanating from one source; -- including
usually the writings pertaining to them, and judicial
proceedings under them; as, divine law; English law; Roman
law; the law of real property; insurance law.
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9. Legal science; jurisprudence; the principles of equity;
applied justice.
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Reason is the life of the law; nay, the common law
itself is nothing else but reason. --Coke.
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Law is beneficence acting by rule. --Burke.
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And sovereign Law, that state's collected will
O'er thrones and globes elate,
Sits empress, crowning good, repressing ill. --Sir
W. Jones.
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10. Trial by the laws of the land; judicial remedy;
litigation; as, to go law.
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When every case in law is right. --Shak.
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He found law dear and left it cheap. --Brougham.
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11. An oath, as in the presence of a court. [Obs.] See {Wager
of law}, under {Wager}.
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{Avogadro's law} (Chem.), a fundamental conception, according
to which, under similar conditions of temperature and
pressure, all gases and vapors contain in the same volume
the same number of ultimate molecules; -- so named after
Avogadro, an Italian scientist. Sometimes called
{Amp[`e]re's law}.

{Bode's law} (Astron.), an approximative empirical expression
of the distances of the planets from the sun, as follows:
-- Mer. Ven. Earth. Mars. Aste. Jup. Sat. Uran. Nep. 4 4 4
4 4 4 4 4 4 0 3 6 12 24 48 96 192 384 -- -- -- -- -- -- --
--- --- 4 7 10 16 28 52 100 196 388 5.9 7.3 10 15.2 27.4
52 95.4 192 300 where each distance (line third) is the
sum of 4 and a multiple of 3 by the series 0, 1, 2, 4, 8,
etc., the true distances being given in the lower line.

{Boyle's law} (Physics), an expression of the fact, that when
an elastic fluid is subjected to compression, and kept at
a constant temperature, the product of the pressure and
volume is a constant quantity, i. e., the volume is
inversely proportioned to the pressure; -- known also as
{Mariotte's law}, and the {law of Boyle and Mariotte}.

{Brehon laws}. See under {Brehon}.

{Canon law}, the body of ecclesiastical law adopted in the
Christian Church, certain portions of which (for example,
the law of marriage as existing before the Council of
Tent) were brought to America by the English colonists as
part of the common law of the land. --Wharton.

{Civil law}, a term used by writers to designate Roman law,
with modifications thereof which have been made in the
different countries into which that law has been
introduced. The civil law, instead of the {common law},
prevails in the State of Louisiana. --Wharton.

{Commercial law}. See {Law merchant} (below).

{Common law}. See under {Common}.

{Criminal law}, that branch of jurisprudence which relates to

{Ecclesiastical law}. See under {Ecclesiastical}.

{Grimm's law} (Philol.), a statement (propounded by the
German philologist Jacob Grimm) of certain regular changes
which the primitive Indo-European mute consonants,
so-called (most plainly seen in Sanskrit and, with some
changes, in Greek and Latin), have undergone in the
Teutonic languages. Examples: Skr. bh[=a]t[.r], L. frater,
E. brother, G. bruder; L. tres, E. three, G. drei, Skr.
go, E. cow, G. kuh; Skr. dh[=a] to put, Gr. ti-qe`-nai, E.
do, OHG, tuon, G. thun. See also {lautverschiebung}.

{Kepler's laws} (Astron.), three important laws or
expressions of the order of the planetary motions,
discovered by John Kepler. They are these: (1) The orbit
of a planet with respect to the sun is an ellipse, the sun
being in one of the foci. (2) The areas swept over by a
vector drawn from the sun to a planet are proportioned to
the times of describing them. (3) The squares of the times
of revolution of two planets are in the ratio of the cubes
of their mean distances.

{Law binding}, a plain style of leather binding, used for law
books; -- called also {law calf}.

{Law book}, a book containing, or treating of, laws.

{Law calf}. See {Law binding} (above).

{Law day}.
(a) Formerly, a day of holding court, esp. a court-leet.
(b) The day named in a mortgage for the payment of the
money to secure which it was given. [U. S.]

{Law French}, the dialect of Norman, which was used in
judicial proceedings and law books in England from the
days of William the Conqueror to the thirty-sixth year of
Edward III.

{Law language}, the language used in legal writings and

{Law Latin}. See under {Latin}.

{Law lords}, peers in the British Parliament who have held
high judicial office, or have been noted in the legal

{Law merchant}, or {Commercial law}, a system of rules by
which trade and commerce are regulated; -- deduced from
the custom of merchants, and regulated by judicial
decisions, as also by enactments of legislatures.

{Law of Charles} (Physics), the law that the volume of a
given mass of gas increases or decreases, by a definite
fraction of its value for a given rise or fall of
temperature; -- sometimes less correctly styled {Gay
Lussac's law}, or {Dalton's law}.

{Law of nations}. See {International law}, under

{Law of nature}.
(a) A broad generalization expressive of the constant
action, or effect, of natural conditions; as, death
is a law of nature; self-defense is a law of nature.
See {Law}, 4.
(b) A term denoting the standard, or system, of morality
deducible from a study of the nature and natural
relations of human beings independent of supernatural
revelation or of municipal and social usages.

{Law of the land}, due process of law; the general law of the

{Laws of honor}. See under {Honor}.

{Laws of motion} (Physics), three laws defined by Sir Isaac
Newton: (1) Every body perseveres in its state of rest or
of moving uniformly in a straight line, except so far as
it is made to change that state by external force. (2)
Change of motion is proportional to the impressed force,
and takes place in the direction in which the force is
impressed. (3) Reaction is always equal and opposite to
action, that is to say, the actions of two bodies upon
each other are always equal and in opposite directions.

{Marine law}, or {Maritime law}, the law of the sea; a branch
of the law merchant relating to the affairs of the sea,
such as seamen, ships, shipping, navigation, and the like.

{Mariotte's law}. See {Boyle's law} (above).

{Martial law}.See under {Martial}.

{Military law}, a branch of the general municipal law,
consisting of rules ordained for the government of the
military force of a state in peace and war, and
administered in courts martial. --Kent. --Warren's

{Moral law}, the law of duty as regards what is right and
wrong in the sight of God; specifically, the ten
commandments given by Moses. See {Law}, 2.

{Mosaic law}, or {Ceremonial law}. (Script.) See {Law}, 3.

{Municipal law}, or {Positive law}, a rule prescribed by the
supreme power of a state, declaring some right, enforcing
some duty, or prohibiting some act; -- distinguished from
{international law} and {constitutional law}. See {Law},

{Periodic law}. (Chem.) See under {Periodic}.

{Roman law}, the system of principles and laws found in the
codes and treatises of the lawmakers and jurists of
ancient Rome, and incorporated more or less into the laws
of the several European countries and colonies founded by
them. See {Civil law} (above).

{Statute law}, the law as stated in statutes or positive
enactments of the legislative body.

{Sumptuary law}. See under {Sumptuary}.

{To go to law}, to seek a settlement of any matter by
bringing it before the courts of law; to sue or prosecute
some one.

{To take the law of}, or {To have the law of}, to bring the
law to bear upon; as, to take the law of one's neighbor.

{Wager of law}. See under {Wager}.

Syn: Justice; equity.

Usage: {Law}, {Statute}, {Common law}, {Regulation}, {Edict},
{Decree}. Law is generic, and, when used with
reference to, or in connection with, the other words
here considered, denotes whatever is commanded by one
who has a right to require obedience. A statute is a
particular law drawn out in form, and distinctly
enacted and proclaimed. Common law is a rule of action
founded on long usage and the decisions of courts of
justice. A regulation is a limited and often,
temporary law, intended to secure some particular end
or object. An edict is a command or law issued by a
sovereign, and is peculiar to a despotic government. A
decree is a permanent order either of a court or of
the executive government. See {Justice}.
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Law \Law\, interj. [Cf. {La}.]
An exclamation of mild surprise. [Archaic or Low]
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Law \Law\, v. t.
Same as {Lawe}, v. t. [Obs.]
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n 1: the collection of rules imposed by authority; "civilization
presupposes respect for the law"; "the great problem for
jurisprudence to allow freedom while enforcing order" [synonym:
{law}, {jurisprudence}]
2: legal document setting forth rules governing a particular
kind of activity; "there is a law against kidnapping"
3: a rule or body of rules of conduct inherent in human nature
and essential to or binding upon human society [synonym: {law},
{natural law}]
4: a generalization that describes recurring facts or events in
nature; "the laws of thermodynamics" [synonym: {law}, {law of
5: the branch of philosophy concerned with the law and the
principles that lead courts to make the decisions they do
[synonym: {jurisprudence}, {law}, {legal philosophy}]
6: the learned profession that is mastered by graduate study in
a law school and that is responsible for the judicial system;
"he studied law at Yale" [synonym: {law}, {practice of law}]
7: the force of policemen and officers; "the law came looking
for him" [synonym: {police}, {police force}, {constabulary},

173 Moby Thesaurus words for "law":
Dogberry, Eighteenth Amendment, John Law, Procrustean law,
Prohibition Party, Volstead Act, a priori truth, act, appointment,
assize, axiom, ban, bill, bluecoat, bobby, brevet,
bring action against, bring into court, bring suit,
bring to justice, bring to trial, brocard, bull, bylaw, canon,
code, command, commandment, contraband, convention, cop, copper,
criminology, criterion, declaration, decree, decree-law,
decreement, decretal, decretum, denial, dick, dictate, dictation,
dictum, diktat, disallowance, drag into court, edict, edictum,
embargo, enactment, exclusion, exigency, fiat, flatfoot, flattie,
forbiddance, forbidden fruit, forbidding, forensic psychiatry,
form, formality, formula, formulary, fundamental, gendarme,
general principle, go into litigation, go to law, golden rule,
guideline, guiding principle, gumshoe, imperative, implead, index,
index expurgatorius, index librorum prohibitorum, inhibition,
injunction, institute, institution, interdict, interdiction,
interdictum, ipse dixit, jurisprudence, jus, law of nature,
legal chemistry, legal medicine, legal science, legislation, lex,
litigate, mandate, maxim, measure, medical jurisprudence,
medico-legal medicine, mitzvah, moral, necessity, no-no,
nomography, norm, norma, order of nature, ordinance, ordonnance,
peeler, pig, postulate, precept, preclusion, prescribed form,
prescript, prescription, prevention, principium, principle,
proclamation, prohibition, prohibitory injunction, pronouncement,
pronunciamento, proposition, proscription, prosecute,
prosecute at law, put in suit, put on trial, refusal, regulation,
rejection, repression, rescript, restrictive covenants, rubric,
rule, ruling, ruling out, seek in law, seek justice,
self-evident truth, senatus consult, senatus consultum, set form,
settled principle, shamus, standard, standing order, statute, sue,
sumptuary laws, suppression, taboo, take to court, tenet, the cops,
the fuzz, the law, theorem, truism, truth, ukase, universal law,
universal truth, working principle, working rule, zoning,
zoning laws

{software law}

Local Authority Workstation

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

LAW, ARBITRARY. An arbitrary law is one made by the legislator simply
because he wills it, and is not founded in the nature of things; such law,
for example, as the tariff law, which may be high or low. This term is used
in opposition to immutable.

LAW, CANON. The canon law is a body of Roman ecclesiastical law, relative to
such matters as that church either has or pretends to have the proper
jurisdiction over:
2. This is compiled from the opinions of the ancient Latin fathers, the
decrees of general councils, and the decretal epistles and bulls of the holy
see. All which lay in the same confusion and disorder as the Roman civil
law, till about the year 1151, when one Gratian, an Italian monk, animated
by the discovery of Justinian's Pandects, reduced the ecclesiastical
constitutions also into some method, in three books, which he entitled
Concordia discordantium canonum, but which are generally known by the name
of Decretum Gratiani. These reached as low as the time of Pope Alexander
III. The subsequent papal decrees to the pontificate of Gregory IX., were
published in much the same method, under the auspices of that pope, about
the year 1230, in five books, entitled Decretalia Gregorii noni. A sixth book

was added by Boniface VIII., about the year 1298, which is called Sextus
decretalium. The Clementine constitution or decrees of Clement V., were in
like manner authenticated in 1317, by his successor, John XXII., who also
published twenty constitutions of his own, called the Extravagantes Joannis,
all of which in some manner answer to the novels of the civil law. To these
have since been added some decrees of the later popes, in five books called
Extravagantes communes. And all these together, Gratian's Decrees, Gregory's
Decretals, the Sixth Decretals, the Clementine Constitutions, and the
Extravagants of John and his successors, form the Corpus juris canonici, or
body of the Roman canon law. 1 Bl. Com. 82; Encyclopedie, Droit Canonique,
Droit Public Ecclesiastique; Dict. de Jurispr. Droit Canonique; Ersk. Pr. L.
Scotl. B. 1, t. 1, s. 10. See, in general, Ayl. Par. Jur. Can. Ang.; Shelf.
on M. & D. 19; Preface to Burn's Eccl. Law, by Thyrwhitt, 22; Hale's Hist.
C. L. 26-29; Bell's Case of a Putative Marriage, 203; Dict. du Droit
Canonique; Stair's Inst. b. 1, t. 1, 7.

LAW. In its most general and comprehensive sense, law signifies a rule of
action; and this term is applied indiscriminately to all kinds of action;
whether animate or inanimate, rational or irrational. 1 Bl. Com. 38. In its
more confined sense, law denotes the rule, not of actions in general, but of
human action or conduct. In the civil code of Louisiana, art. 1, it is
defined to be "a solemn expression of the legislative will." Vide Toull. Dr.
Civ. Fr. tit. prel. s. 1, n. 4; 1 Bouv. Inst. n. 1-3.
2. Law is generally divided into four principle classes, namely;
Natural law, the law of nations, public law, and private or civil law. When
considered in relation to its origin, it is statute law or common law. When
examined as to its different systems it is divided into civil law, common
law, canon law. When applied to objects, it is civil, criminal, or penal. It
is also divided into natural law and positive law. Into written law, lex
scripta; and unwritten law, lex non scripta. Into law merchant, martial law,
municipal law, and foreign law. When considered as to their duration, laws
are immutable and arbitrary or positive; when as their effect, they are
prospective and retrospective. These will be separately considered.

LAW, CIVIL. The term civil law is generally applied by way of eminence to
the civil or municipal law of the Roman empire, without distinction as to
the time when the principles of such law were established or modified. In
another sense, the civil law is that collection of laws comprised in the
institutes, the code, and the digest of the emperor Justinian, and the novel
constitutions of himself and some of his successors. Ersk. Pr. L. Scotl. B.
1, t. l, s. 9; 6 L. R. 494.
2. The Institutes contain the elements or first principles of the Roman
law, in four books. The Digests or Pandects are in fifty books, and contain
the opinions and writings of eminent lawyers digested in a systematical
method, whose works comprised more than two thousand volumes, The new code,
or collection of imperial constitutions, in twelve books; which was a
substitute for the code of Theodosius. The novels or new constitutions,
posterior in time to the other books, and amounting to a supplement to the
code, containing new decrees of successive emperors as new questions
happened to arise. These form the body of the Roman law, or corpus juris
civilis, as published about the time of Justinian.
3. Although successful in the west, these laws were not, even in the
lifetime of the emperor universally received; and after the Lombard invasion
they became so totally neglected, that both the Code and Pandects were lost
till the twelfth century, A. D. 1130; when it is said the Pandects were
accidentally discovered at Amalphi, and the Code at Ravenna. But, as if
fortune would make an atonement for her former severity, they have since
been the study of the wisest men, and revered as law, by the politest
4. By the term civil law is also understood the particular law of each
people, opposed to natural law, or the law of nations, which are common to
all. Just. Inst. l. 1, t. 1, Sec. 1, 2; Ersk. Pr. L. Scot. B. 1, t. 1, s. 4.
In this sense it, is used by Judge Swift. See below.
5. Civil law is also sometimes understood as that which has emanated
from the secular power opposed to the ecclesiastical or military.
6. Sometimes by the term civil law is meant those laws which relate to
civil matters only; and in this sense it is opposed to criminal law, or to
those laws which concern criminal matters. Vide Civil.
7. Judge Swift, in his System of the Laws of Connecticut, prefers the
term civil law, to that of municipal law. He considers the term municipal to
be too limited in its signification. He defines civil law to be a rule of
human action, adopted by mankind in a state of society, or prescribed by the
supreme power of the government, requiring a course of conduct not repugnant
to morality or religion, productive of the greatest political happiness, and
prohibiting actions contrary thereto, and which is enforced by the sanctions
of pains and penalties. 1 Sw. Syst. 37. See Ayl. Pand. B. 1, t. 2, p. 6.
See, in general, as to civil law, Cooper's Justinian the Pandects; 1
Bl. Com. 80, 81; Encyclopedie, art. Droit Civil, Droit Romain; Domat, Les
Loix Civiles; Ferriere's Dict.; Brown's Civ. Law; Halifax's Analys. Civ.
Law; Wood's Civ. Law; Ayliffe's Pandects; Hein. Elem. Juris.; Erskine's
Institutes; Pothier; Eunomus, Dial. 1; Corpus Juris Civilis; Taylor's Elem.
Civ. Law.

LAW, INTERNATIONAL. The law of nature applied to the affairs of nations,
commonly called the law of nations, jus gentium; is also called by some
modern authors international law. Toullier, Droit Francais, tit. rel. Sec.
12. Mann. Comm. 1; Bentham. on Morals, &c., 260, 262; Wheat. on Int. Law;
Foelix, Du Droit Intern. Prive, n. 1.

LAW, MARTIAL. Martial law is a code established for the government of the
army and navy of the United States.
2. Its principal rules are to be found in the articles of war. (q.v.)
The object of this code, or body of regulations is to, maintain that order
and discipline, the fundamental principles of which are a due obedience of
the several ranks to their proper officers, a subordination of each rank to
their superiors, and the subjection of the whole to certain rules of
discipline, essential to their acting with the union and energy of an
organized body. The violations of this law are to be tried by a court
martial. (q.v.)
3. A military commander has not the power, by declaring a district to
be under martial law, to subject all the citizens to that code, and to
suspend the operation of the writ of habeas corpus. 3 Mart. (Lo.) 531. Vide
Hale's Hist. C. L. 38; 1 Bl. Com. 413; Tytler on Military Law; Ho. on C. M.;
M'Arth. on C. M.; Rules and Articles of War, art. 64, et seq; 2 Story, L. U.
S. 1000.

LAW, COMMON. The common law is that which derives its force and authority
from the universal consent and immemorial practice of the people. It has
never received the sanction of the legislature, by an express act, which is
the criterion by which it is distinguished from the statute law. It has
never been reduced to writing; by this expression, however, it is not meant
that all those laws are at present merely oral, or communicated from former
ages to the present solely by word of mouth, but that the evidence of our
common law is contained in our books of Reports, and depends on the general
practice and judicial adjudications of our courts.
2. The common law is derived from two sources, the common law of
England, and the practice and decision of our own courts. In some states the
English common law has been adopted by statute. There is no general rule to
ascertain what part of the English common law is valid and binding. To run
the line of distinction, is a subject of embarrassment to courts, and the
want of it a great perplexity to the student. Kirb. Rep. Pref. It may,
however, be observed generally, that it is binding where it has not been
superseded by the constitution of the United States, or of the several
states, or by their legislative enactments, or varied by custom, and where
it is founded in reason and consonant to the genius and manners of the
3. The phrase "common law" occurs in the seventh article of the
amendments of the constitution of the United States. "In suits at common
law, where the value in controversy shall not exceed twenty dollar says that
article, "the right of trial by jury shall be preserved. The "common law"
here mentioned is the common law of England, and not of any particular
state. 1 Gall. 20; 1 Bald. 558; 3 Wheat. 223; 3 Pet. R. 446; 1 Bald. R.
554. The term is used in contradistinction to equity, admiralty, and
maritime law. 3 Pet. 446; 1 Bald. 554.
4. The common law of England is not in all respects to be taken as that
of the United States, or of the several states; its general principles are
adopted only so far as they are applicable to our situation. 2 Pet, 144; 8
Pet. 659; 9 Cranch, 333; 9 S. & R. 330; 1 Blackf 66, 82, 206; Kirby, 117; 5
Har. & John. 356; 2 Aik. 187; Charlt. 172; 1 Ham. 243. See 5 Cow. 628; 5
Pet. 241; 1 Dall. 67; 1 Mass. 61; 9 Pick. 532; 3 Greenl. 162; 6 Greenl. 55;
3 Gill & John. 62; Sampson's Discourse before the Historical Society of New
York; 1 Gallis. R. 489; 3 Conn. R. 114; 2 Dall. 2, 297, 384; 7 Cranch, R.
32; 1 Wheat. R. 415; 3 Wheat. 223; 1 Blackf. R. 205; 8 Pet. R. 658; 5 Cowen,
R. 628; 2 Stew. R. 362.

LAW, CRIMINAL. By criminal law is understood that system of laws which
provides for the mode of trial of persons charged with criminal offences,
defines crimes, and provides for their punishments.

LAW, FOREIGN. By foreign laws are understood the laws of a foreign country.
The states of the American Union are for some purposes foreign to each
other, and the laws of each are foreign in the others. See Foreign laws.

LAW, MERCHANT. A system of customs acknowledged and taken notice of by all
commercial nations; and those customs constitute a part of the general law
of the land; and being a part of that law their existence cannot be proved
by witnesses, but the judges are bound to take notice of them ex officio.
See Beawes' Lex Mercatoria Rediviva; Caines' Lex Mercatoria Americana; Com.
Dig. Merchant, D; Chit. Comm. Law; Pardess. Droit Commercial; Collection des
Lois Maritimes anterieure au dix hutime sicle, par Dupin; Capmany,
Costumbres Maritimas; II Consolato del Mare; Us et Coutumes de la Mer;
Piantandia, Della Giurisprudenze Maritina Commerciale, Antica e Moderna;
Valin, Commentaire sur l'Ordonnance de la Marine, du Mois d'Aout, 1681;
Boulay-Paty, Dr. Comm.; Boucher, Institutions au Droit Maritime.

LAW, MUNICIPAL. Municipal law is defined by Mr. Justice Blackstone to be "a
rule of civil conduct prescribed by the supreme power in a state, commanding
what is right and prohibiting what is wrong." This definition has been
criticised, and has been perhaps, justly considered imperfect. The latter
part has been thought superabundant to the first; see Mr. Christian's note;
and the first too general and indefinite, and too limited in its
signification to convey a just idea of the subject. See Law, civil. Mr.
Chitty defines municipal law to be "a rule of civil conduct, prescribed by
the supreme power in a state, commanding what shall be done or what shall
not be done." 1 Bl. Com. 44, note 6, Chitty's edit.
2. Municipal law, among the Romans, was a law made to govern a
particular city or province; this term is derived from the Latin municipium,
which among them signified a city which was governed by its own laws, and
which had its own magistrates.

LAW, RETROSPECTIVE. A retrospective law is one that is to take effect, in
point of time, before it was passed.
2. Whenever a law of this kind impairs the obligation of contracts, it
is void. 3 Dall. 391. But laws which only vary the remedies, divest no
right, but merely cure a defect in proceedings otherwise fair, are valid. 10
Serg. & Rawle, 102, 3; 15 Serg. & Rawle, 72. See Ex post facto.

LAW, STATUTE. The written will of the legislature, solemnly expressed
according to the forms prescribed by the constitution; an act of the
legislature. See Statute.

LAW, UNWRITTEN, or lex non scripta. All the laws which do not come under the
definition of written law; it is composed, principally, of the law of
nature, the law of nations, the common law, and customs.

LAW, PENAL. One which inflicts a penalty for a violation of its enactment.

LAW, POSITIVE. Positive law, as used in opposition to natural law, may be
considered in a threefold point of view. 1. The universal voluntary law, or
those rules which are presumed to be law, by the uniform practice of nations
in general, and by the manifest utility of the rules themselves. 2. The
customary law, or that which, from motives of convenience, has, by tacit,
but implied agreement, prevailed, not generally indeed among all nations,
nor with so permanent a utility as to become a portion of the universal
voluntary law, but enough to have acquired a prescriptive obligation among
certain states so situated as to be mutually benefited by it. 1 Taunt. 241.
3. The conventional law, or that which is agreed between particular states
by express treaty, a law binding on the parties among whom such treaties are
in force. 1 Chit. Comm. Law, 28.

LAW, PRIVATE. An act of the legislature which relates to some private
matters, which do not concern the public at large.

LAW, PROSPECTIVE. One which provides for, and regulates the future acts of
men, and does not interfere in any way with what has past.

LAW, PUBLIC. A public law is one in which all persons have an interest.

LAW, WRITTEN, or lex scripta. This consists of the constitution of the
United States the constitutions of the several states the acts of the
different legislatures, as the acts of congress, and of the legislatures of
the several states, and of treaties. See Statute.

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English Dictionary  2005-2009

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