long arm of the law

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long arm of the law

  1. (idiomatic, almost always preceded by the) The influence or effectiveness of law enforcement institutions; law enforcement officers collectively.
    • 1889, Wilkie Collins, chapter 60, in The Legacy of Cain:
      It is my belief that I could have felt no greater dismay, if the long arm of the Law had laid its hold on me while he was speaking.
    • 1979 September 3, “Pass the Buck”, in Time[1]:
      The long arm of the law does not protect banks the way it used to.
    • 2008 September 12, Lisa Rein, “Jurisdictions Share Data on Ex-Offenders”, in Washington Post[2]:
      "Repeat violent offenders will hopscotch over state lines to avoid the long arm of the law," said Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley.