Meaning of “law” in the English Dictionary

"law" in British English

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lawnoun

uk /lɔː/ us /lɑː/

law noun (RULE)

B1 [ C ] a rule, usually made by a government, that is used to order the way in which a society behaves:

There are laws against drinking in the street.
The laws governing the possession of firearms are being reviewed.
They led the fight to impose laws on smoking.

B2 [ U ] often the law the system of rules of a particular country, group, or area of activity:

What does the law say about having alcohol in the blood while driving?
Of course robbery is against the law!
The judge ruled that the directors had knowingly broken the law.
You can't take that course of action and remain within the law.
They have to provide a contract by law.

B2 [ U ] the area of knowledge or work that involves studying or working with the law :

She's going to study law at university.
a law firm in New York

[ S ] informal the police:

The law was/were out in force at the demonstration.
go to law

When someone goes to law about something, they ask a court to make a legal judgment about it.

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(Definition of “law” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"law" in American English

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lawnoun

us //

law noun (RULE)

[ C/U ] a rule made by a government that states how people may and may not behave in society and in business, and that often orders particular punishments if they do not obey, or a system of such rules:

[ C ] We have a law in this state that drivers must wear seatbelts.
[ U ] She’s studying law at Georgetown University.
[ U ] Playing loud music late at night is against the law.

[ C/U ] The law is also the police:

[ U ] He got in trouble with the law as a young man.
Law and order

Law and order is the condition of a society in which laws are obeyed, and social life and business go on in an organized way.

Law enforcement

Law enforcement is the government activity of keeping the public peace and causing laws to be obeyed:

Several law enforcement officers were sent to Mexico to bring the prisoner back.

law noun (PRINCIPLE)

[ C ] a general rule that states what always happens when the same conditions exist:

the laws of physics

(Definition of “law” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"law" in Business English

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lawnoun

uk /lɔː/ us

[ C ] GOVERNMENT, LAW a rule, usually made by a government, that states how people may and may not behave in a society, and often orders particular punishments if they do not obey:

a law against sth There is a law against aggressive telemarketing.
a law requires/states sth Senate leaders proposed a law requiring rigorous new scrutiny of all future tax breaks.
a law allows/forbids/prohibits sth Checks will be processed more quickly, thanks to a federal law allowing banks to use electronic images of checks.
the laws on/governing sth He plans changes to the laws on bankruptcy.
tax/anti-trust/environmental laws

[ S or U ] GOVERNMENT, LAW the set or system of laws made by a government in a particular place:

UK/American/Indian, etc. law Promising magical remedies is prosecutable under Indian law.
federal/international/state law The hearing was required by federal law.
obey/respect the law Even the most powerful people have a duty to obey the law.
uphold/enforce the law
break/disobey/violate the law
It is against the law to hire undocumented workers in the U.S.
the law says/states/requires The law requires traders to state clearly what rate of exchange they are using.
by law By law, the maximum donation allowed is $5,000.
under the law Under the law, private equity is taxed in exactly the same manner as every other investment.
outside/within the law He took risks with his business dealings, but was careful to stay within the law.

[ U ] GOVERNMENT, LAW the part of a set of laws that deals with a particular activity, business, or industry:

civil/common/criminal law

[ U ] the study of law or the job of being a lawyer:

go into/practise/study law Her mother inspired her to study law.
law firm/practice/school This isn't just any law school, it's the one that has more judges in more courtrooms than any other.
a law degree/graduate/professor

[ C or U ] the rules set by an organization that control how it and its members should behave:

the laws of sth Managers know how to promote a respectful working environment while maintaining the laws of the office.
Church law regulates the actions of the bishops.

[ C, usually plural ] a rule or normal way of behaving which the people who do an activity usually follow:

the laws of sth The laws of good business say you shake hands and make eye contact when you leave.
Out of all the laws of salesmanship, the first one to learn is to get a prospect's name.
Vendors have informal laws of their own about client-stealing.

[ C ] a rule which states what always happens when the same conditions exist:

the law of sth The first law of thermodynamics says that energy is conserved in any process involving a thermodynamic system and its surroundings.
the laws of physics/science/economics According to the laws of physics this would not be possible.
the law

LAW the police or other officials who stop crime or catch criminals:

He had to swear he wasn't changing his name in order to run from the law.

(Definition of “law” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)