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      • Native Language:
      • Russian
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      • Ukraine
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      • Ukraine

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    #1

    lay down the law

    Hello there,

    What does the phrase "lay down the law" mean? If we lay down the law, does it mean that we disrespect or break it or that we made some rules thst one has to stick to? Can we use any other synonims instead of lay down? Like "set" or whatever else...?

    Thank you.

    • Member Info
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      • American English
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    #2

    Re: lay down the law

    It means that I am telling you what the law is. I am setting the law. I am in a position of authority.

    It's idiomatic.

  1. Eckaslike's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: lay down the law

    I think this is quite a good definition: http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dict...y-down-the-law

    "to forcefully make known what you think should happen"

    e.g. "She can't just come into this office and start laying down the law.".


    To me, it's an idiom which means that the person who is laying down the law strongly believes that what they are telling you to do is absolutely right. It could be something petty, or something serious, but it doesn't actually have to be a real law of any kind.

    So, although a policeman could lay down the law by telling you that you have to do something, equally someone where you work or live could lay down the law about some petty rule or other. For example, they may object to how long you keep things in the fridge, or how you may occasionally leave a spoon on the counter-top after stirring your coffee rather than washing it up or putting it in a dishwasher, which they absolutely believe you should be doing. They most certainly will let you know that they are not happy.
    Last edited by Eckaslike; 04-Aug-2015 at 19:34.

    • Member Info
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    #4

    Re: lay down the law

    Yes, good point. It's not just, or primarily, about legal laws. It's about "I'm in charge and this is what you should do." Or suffer the consequences.

  2. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: lay down the law

    My mother used to "lay down the law" at times. My brother and I knew that she was very serious.
    Last edited by Rover_KE; 05-Aug-2015 at 08:53. Reason: Fixing typos.

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