law

law
law 1 Law, rule, regulation, precept, statute, ordinance, canon all designate a principle laid down or accepted as governing conduct, action, or procedure. Law, rule, and precept are also used as collective nouns to denote a body of laws, rules, or precepts
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obey the law

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work by rule

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teach by precept

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Law and precept are often used abstractly
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the world demanded peace and law, not liberties and privileges— Buchan

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the poet's business is not with preceptLowes

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Law (see also HYPOTHESIS) primarily implies imposition by a sovereign authority and the obligation of obedience on the part of those governed
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churches are taking the lead in their own Communions as being not under the law of states but under the law of God— Graham

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In more restricted use, however, it implies a will to maintain peace and justice in the community or group governed and the expression of that will in concrete injunctions or prohibitions. Laws may be written or unwritten: when unwritten they indicate derivation from established custom; when written they commonly indicate enactment by a legislative body or power
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the laws of New York State

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beginning with the definition of law in the lawyer's sense as a statement of the circumstances in which the public force will be brought to bear upon a man through the courts— Justice Holmes

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Rule, in contrast with law, suggests closer relation to individual conduct and method, or a desire for order and discipline in the group. Sometimes it implies restriction, whether prescribed or self-imposed, for the sake of an immediate end (as unity in action, uniformity in procedure, or conformity to a standard of practice)
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the rules of a game

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the rules of a school

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the rules of good writing

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Sometimes rule does not imply ordering and prohibiting but suggests a positive way of thinking or acting in order to get desired or concrete results
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the rule of three

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like many old-time craftsmen he worked strictly by rule of thumb

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Regulation often equals rule, but distinctively it connotes prescription by authority for the control or management of an organization or system
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military regulations

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regulations respecting interstate commerce

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factory regulations

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we, the artists, are individualists . . . what right have you to circumscribe us with petty rules and regulations?—Hartford

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this regulation establishes ceiling prices for producers (brewers) of domestic malt beverages— DiSalle

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Precept, like law, usually implies generality and lack of detail in the statement and an authoritative origin; like rule, however, it implies closer reference to individual conduct than to government
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he really was the one child to whom the "spare-the-rod" precept did not apply— Deland

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Often precept is applied to what is enjoined by teaching; it commonly suggests counsel or advice, and is opposed in its abstract use to practice or example
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by precept and by practice he proclaimed the lofty solitude of the individual soul— Ellis

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observe the sixth commandment, not as a precept of divine law but as a counsel of profitable prudence— Sullivan

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Statute, ordinance, and canon all come under the general class of law.
[m2[A statute is a written law, formally enacted by a legislative body.
An ordinance is a local law, especially one enacted by a municipal government.
A canon, basically, is a law of a church binding upon all of its members. In extended use canon is applied to such laws of ethics, of society, of criticism, and of the practice of the arts, as have the sanction of accepted authority and are enforced by one's moral, social, or artistic conscience
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are we witnessing a violent reaction against accepted canons of decency in life?— Grandgent

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Analogous words: mandate, dictate, *command
2 *principle, axiom, fundamental, theorem
Analogous words: necessity, exigency (see NEED n)
Antonyms: chance
3 *hypothesis, theory
4 statute, act, *bill

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

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  • law — / lȯ/ n [Old English lagu, of Scandinavian origin] 1: a rule of conduct or action prescribed or formally recognized as binding or enforced by a controlling authority: as a: a command or provision enacted by a legislature see also statute 1 b:… …   Law dictionary

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