Etymology of Law

Law is the system of rules that a group of people (a town, a city, a country, a world) abide by. Laws are often enforced by punishing those who do not comply with them.

From what I’ve read, the word law does not seem to have Latin origins. I was initially skeptical because the Latin words for law, lex and legis, are a little similar to law. However, every book I’ve seen seems to ignore this.

So this is what etymologists have agreed upon: law comes from the Old Norse lag, which evolved into the Old English lagu. Middle English: lawe. In Old English, the words æ and gesetnes had the same meaning as law, but they became obsolete.

If you have to write about the etymology of law on a test, don’t mention the Latin origins as no one thinks that they are related to law. Still, it’s a bit suspicious. The word legal comes from the Latin legalis, but law doesn’t come from lex? Hmm.

Something to think about.

The Reality of Law In 2016 and Beyond

One of the biggest complaints about law nowadays is that the law has become so complex, so detailed, that it seems as if individuals cannot even act in a sensible, free way.

Indeed, the main issue that arises out of excessively limiting laws is precisely the destruction of our free society. Laws exist for good reason. We must prevent horrible acts like rape and murder at all costs.

Yet humans are not robots, and that’s what laws attempt to to do: make every single person a cog in a very large machine.

Laws are created by humans, and it’s important to make sure that the lawmakers are conscious, aware people. If you look at Ancient China or the Aztec civilization, some laws were outright barbaric by our modern standards. To see what kinds of absurd laws enter the legislation, look no further.

Some of the states in the U.S. are notorious for having completely ridiculous laws (for example, bingo games can’t go for more than five hours in North Carolina. You can’t sell your eyeballs in Texas. You may only eat fried chicken with your bare hands in Gainesville. Flirting is prohibited in San Antonio).

Fortunately, people power tends to come out on top, and some of these so-called laws are not actually enforced. It’s up to you as an individual to ensure that your government is not screwing things up with ridiculous laws.


Murray, John. An Etymological Dictionary of Modern English. 1921.