lay down the law

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English[edit]

Verb[edit]

lay down the law

  1. To promulgate law.
    • 2004, John Lierman, The New Testament Moses, page 125:
      [I]n other words, some Jews thought of Moses as the one who laid down the Law, while others saw him more as a prophet.
  2. (law, dated) To present the law that applies to a given case.
  3. (idiomatic) To authoritatively or dogmatically assert what is permitted or not permitted.
    • 1818, Sir Walter Scott, The Heart of Mid-Lothian‎, chapter 4:
      He concluded this sentence with a self-important cough, as one who has laid down the law in an indisputable manner.
    • 1908, Upton Sinclair, The Moneychangers‎, chapter 19:
      Montague could picture the grim, hawk-faced old man, sitting at the head of the council board, and laying down the law to the masters of the Metropolis.
    • 2003, Robert Ludlum; Gayle Lynds, The Altman code‎, page 357:
      Looks like the governor's laid down the law about the guards getting too lax, so we have to be damned careful.

See also[edit]