unwritten law

(redirected from an unwritten law)

unwritten law

A rule, provision, or guideline that is generally accepted but not formally established or enforced. It's become something of an unwritten law that people from different departments only sit together during lunch. It's just an unwritten law that a new president will make his previous tax returns public—seems kind of suspicious if they don't. The unwritten law for many years was that successful athletes were given free passes for bad behavior or poor grades, so long as they remained successful in their sport.
See also: law, unwritten

unwritten law

An accepted although informal rule of behavior, as in It's an unwritten law that you lock the gate when you leave the swimming pool. [Mid-1400s]
See also: law, unwritten

unwritten law

Rules accepted by custom or tradition rather than codification in a formal body of law. The idea was already expressed by Plato: “There is a written and an unwritten law. Written law is that under which we live in different cities, but that which has arisen from custom is called unwritten law” (quoted by Diogenes Laertius; in Latin, lex no scripta). In a famous legal case in which he succeeded in having his client, Harry Thaw, who was accused of murdering Stanford White, declared insane, Delphin Michael Delmas coined the phrase (1907), “Dementia Americana; the unwritten law.”
See also: law, unwritten
References in classic literature ?
According to an unwritten law, the buying a drink included the privilege of loafing for just so long; then one had to buy another drink or move on.
OSPREYS...........................13 NORTHAMPTON..............26 THERE is an unwritten law that no one should ever read too much into a pre-season friendly, and especially the first one of the summer.
31, it was an unwritten law that at the stroke of midnight all the members of the family should be together at home.
It is an unwritten law of the property market that if you are looking to sell, it is simply not worth investing in any costly home improvements.
They leave the good guys alone, it's kind of an unwritten law."
There is an unwritten law that miners from the same family do not work on the same shift, but this did not happen for the Avkas family - like so many others.
"There is an unwritten law in P that no one should oppose [Hazare].
They were part of that thing that's big in rugby union where if you're not picked, there's an unwritten law you help the team.
As the titanic (above) began to sink on April 15, 1912, the captain ordered women and children first to the lifeboats--a command long considered an unwritten law of the sea.
Michael Palin's many achievements include the instigation of an unwritten law of British TV--if you're making a travel programme, you need a comedian to host it.
"Although Khamenei is not constitutionally allowed to intervene in cabinet appointments, an unwritten law requires all officials to always abide by the supreme leader without showing any opposition.
It's something of an unwritten law in football that you just don't do that sort of thing.
It is an unwritten law on these shores that football has to forever be regarded as our No.
"I think there is an unwritten law that once you have referred it, that is it."
But in Argentina, it is like an unwritten law," he said.