Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

The law, laws and parts of laws

act

noun

a law passed by a country’s government

bill

noun

a written document containing a proposal for a new law

bylaw

noun

a law made by a local government that applies only in that area

case law

noun

the system of law that has developed from judges’ decisions in particular cases in the past

Chapter 7

a part of U.S. law that allows a person with serious financial problems to avoid paying most of the money that they owe in exchange for giving up some of their property

Chapter 11

a part of a U.S. law that allows companies with serious financial problems to organize themselves in a different way and pay the money that they owe slowly instead of stopping operating completely

civil law

noun

the part of law that deals with disagreements between people rather than with crime

civil liberties

noun

the basic rights that all citizens have to do or say what they want, as long as they do not break the law or affect other people’s rights

civil rights

noun

the basic rights that all people in a society should have, for example the right to be treated fairly by the law, the right to express their ideas, and the right to practice their religion

claim

noun

a legal right to something

clause

noun

a part of a legal document or law that officially states that something must be done

common law

noun

the system of law that has developed from customs and judges’ decisions instead of from laws made by politicians. The set of laws made by politicians is called statute law.

conscience clause

noun

the part of a law or contract that allows people who do not agree with it for moral or religious reasons not to obey it

control

noun

a law, agreement, or method that limits something

criminal law

noun

the system of laws that deals with crimes and the punishment of criminals

curfew

noun

a law that does not allow people to go outside between a particular time in the evening and a particular time in the morning

curfew

noun

the period of time during which people must not go outside according to a curfew law

cyberlaw

noun

the group of laws relating to computers and information systems

dead letter

noun

a law, agreement, or tradition that people no longer pay any attention to

executive order

noun

an order from the president or a department or official of the U.S. government that has the same authority as a law

the Freedom of Information Act

the law that allows people to obtain copies of any government documents except those that might cause harm

interest

noun

a legal right to own part of a business or property

invalidity

noun

the fact of not being legally effective

IPR

noun

Intellectual Property Rights: someone’s rights relating to ideas, products, and work that they created and that can be protected by a copyright, patent, or trademark

the judicature

noun

judges and the work, organization, and power of courts and the law

jurisdiction

noun

the right or power to make legal decisions

jurisdiction

noun

a country or area in which a particular legal system operates

jurisprudence

noun

the system of laws that exists in a particular place or that affects a particular area of activity

justice

noun

the legal process of judging and punishing people

law

noun

an official rule that people must obey

law

noun

a system of rules within a country, region, or community dealing with people’s behavior and activities

law

noun

the profession that includes lawyers and judges

law

noun

relating to this profession, to courts, or to a legal system

law

noun

relating to this area of knowledge or study

legal system

noun

the set of laws of a particular country and the way that they are used

legislation

noun

a law, or a set of laws

loophole

noun

something that has been left out of a law or legal document that people can use to avoid obeying it

Megan’s Law

noun

a law in New Jersey that makes it necessary for police to inform neighbors when a person who is guilty of a sex crime moves into the area

ordinance

noun

a law passed by a local government

penal code

noun

a system of laws dealing with the punishment of crimes

power of attorney

noun

the legal right to make decisions for someone else, especially because they are old or sick and cannot make decisions themselves

prohibition

noun

a law or rule that stops people from doing something

proposition

noun

a suggested law or change in a law that citizens vote for or against

provision

noun

a part of an agreement or law that deals with a particular problem

requirement

noun

something that a rule, law, contract, etc. states that you must do

rider

noun

an addition to an official document or new law

right of way

noun

the legal right to go across someone’s private land

Roman law

noun

civil law

statute

noun

a law passed by a government and formally written down

statute

noun

a written rule made by an organization or institution

statute law

noun

all the laws created by a government

statute of limitations

noun

a law that sets a period of time during which legal action can be taken

technicality

noun

a minor detail of the law that can lead to an unfair result

law-and-order

adjective

lawfulness

noun

rule of law

a situation in which everyone in a country is expected to obey the laws, including powerful people, military leaders, etc.

the letter of the law

the exact words that are used in a law, rather than its general meaning

Open Dictionary

chicken raffle

any random process, such as a competition in which a name is drawn from a hat

add a word

Blog

A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog