1. The regime that orders human activities and relations through systematic application of the force of politically organized society, or through social pressure, backed by force, in such a society; the legal system (respect and obey the law).

2. The aggregate of legislation, judicial precedents, and accepted legal principles; the body of authoritative grounds of judicial and administrative action; esp., the body of rules, standards, and principles that the courts of a particular jurisdiction apply in deciding controversies brought before them (the law of the land).

3. The set of rules or principles dealing with a specific area of a legal system (copyright law).

4. The judicial and administrative process; legal action and proceedings ( when settlement negotiations failed, they submitted their dispute to the law).

5. A statute (Congress passed a law). — Abbr. L.

6. COMMON LAW (law but not equity).

7. The legal profession (she spent her entire career in law).

“Some twenty years ago I pointed out two ideas running through definitions of law: one an imperative idea, an idea of a rule laid down by the lawmaking organ of a politically organized society, deriving its force from the authority of the sovereign; and the other a rational or ethical idea, an idea of a rule of right and justice deriving its authority from its intrinsic reasonableness or conformity to ideals of right and merely recognized, not made, by the sovereign.” Roscoe Pound, “More About the Nature of Law,” in Legal Essays in Tribute to Orrin Kip McMurray at 513, 515 (1935).

“All law is the law of a group of individuals or of groups made up of individuals. No one can make a law purely for himself. He may form a resolution, frame an ambition, or adopt a rule, but these are private prescriptions, not laws.” Tony Honoré, Making Law Bind: Essays Legal and Philosophical 33 (1987).

“It will help to distinguish three senses of the word ‘law.’ The first is law as a distinctive social institution; that is the sense invoked when we ask whether primitive law is really law. The second is law as a collection of sets of propositions — the sets we refer to as antitrust law, the law of torts, the Statute of Frauds, and so on. The third is law as a source of rights, duties, and powers, as in the sentence ‘The law forbids the murdering heir to inherit.’ ” Richard A. Posner, The Problems of Jurisprudence 220–21 (1990).

adjective law. See ADJECTIVE LAW.

canon law. See CANON LAW.

caselaw. See CASELAW.

civil law. See CIVIL LAW.

common law. See COMMON LAW.

consuetudinary law (kon-sw[schwa]-t[y]oo-d[schwa]-ner-ee). [fr. Latin consuetudo “custom”] Hist. Ancient customary law that is based on an oral tradition.

conventional law. See CONVENTIONAL LAW.

customary law. See CUSTOMARY LAW.

divine law. See DIVINE LAW.

enacted law. Law that has its source in legislation; WRITTEN LAW.

federal law. See FEDERAL LAW.

general law.

1. Law that is neither local nor confined in application to particular persons. • Even if there is only one person or entity to which a given law applies when enacted, it is general law if it purports to apply to all persons or places of a specified class throughout the jurisdiction.

— Also termed general statute; law of a general nature. Cf. special law. [Cases: Statutes 68. C.J.S. Statutes §§ 154–161.]

2. A statute that relates to a subject of a broad nature.

imperative law. A rule in the form of a command; a rule of action imposed on people by some authority that enforces obedience.

“Strictly speaking, it is not possible to say that imperative law is a command in the ordinary sense of the word. A ‘command’ in the ordinary meaning of the word is an expression of a wish by a person or body as to the conduct of another person, communicated to that other person. But (1) in the case of the law there is no determinate person who as a matter of psychological fact commands all the law. We are all born into a community in which law already exists, and at no time in our lives do any of us command the whole law. The most that we do is to play our part in enforcing or altering particular portions of it. (2) Ignorance of the law is no excuse; thus a rule of law is binding even though not communicated to the subject of the law.” John Salmond, Jurisprudence 21 n. (c) (Glanville L. Williams ed., 10th ed. 1947).

internal law.

1. Law that regulates the domestic affairs of a country. Cf. INTERNATIONAL LAW.

2. LOCAL LAW(3).

local law. See LOCAL LAW.

moral law. See MORAL LAW.

natural law. See NATURAL LAW.

partial law. A statute designed (usu. intentionally) to affect the rights of only one particular person or only certain classes of people, rather than all people.

permanent law. A statute that continues in force for an indefinite time.

positive law. See POSITIVE LAW.

procedural law. See PROCEDURAL LAW.

prospective law. See prospective statute under STATUTE.

special law. A law that pertains to and affects a particular case, person, place, or thing, as opposed to the general public.

— Also termed special act; private law. Cf. general law (1). [Cases: Statutes 77–104. C.J.S. Statutes §§ 148–149, 154–155, 159, 162–201.]

state law. See STATE LAW.

sumptuary law. See SUMPTUARY LAW.

tacit law. A law that derives its authority from the people’s consent, without a positive enactment.

unenacted law. Law that does not have its source in legislation; UNWRITTEN LAW(1).