lay down the law


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lay down the law

To give a directive or order, or to dictate how to behave, often sternly or forcefully. You can't let these kids walk all over you. You need to lay down the law and stick to it. I always hire the same babysitter because she lays down the law, and my kids respect her for it.
See also: down, law, lay

lay down the law (to someone) (about something)

Fig. to scold someone; to make something very clear to someone in a very stern manner. Wow, was she mad at Ed. She really laid down the law about drinking to him. She laid down the law to Ed. She laid down the law about drinking.
See also: down, law, lay

lay down the law

Assert something positively and often arrogantly, state something dogmatically. For example, Dad laid down the law about locking up the house. This colloquial expression, first recorded in 1762, uses lay down in the sense of def. 2.
See also: down, law, lay

lay down the law

COMMON If you lay down the law, you tell people very forcefully and firmly what to do. They were traditional parents, who believed in laying down the law for their children. She had been in West Africa for less than four months, and did not feel it was her place to lay down the law.
See also: down, law, lay

lay down the law

issue instructions to other people in an authoritative or dogmatic way.
See also: down, law, lay

lay down the ˈlaw

(informal, disapproving) give somebody orders and express your opinions in an unpleasant, aggressive way, often when you have no right to do so: He came in here this morning and started laying down the law about all kinds of things. Who does he think he is?
See also: down, law, lay

lay down the law

To issue orders or instructions sharply or imperiously.
See also: down, law, lay

lay down the law, to

To pontificate; to give orders or make dogmatic statements. Lay down here means simply to “make,” and the expression today is often used ironically, since it rarely involves an actual legislator, or even an authority. It still did in 1765, however, when Blackstone’s Commentaries stated, “We may now . . . lay down the law of redress against public oppression.”
See also: down, lay
References in periodicals archive ?
Awakened to the power of visual art by a chance encounter with a picture in an Amsterdam shop window, Winterson describes her subsequent ardors of autodidacticism, then proceeds to lay down the law on how to really look at a painting.
CAMPAIGNERS led by writer Bill Bryson will today lay down the law to Network Rail to force it to clean litter from stations and tracks.
KIRKLEES Council has joined forces with four other local authorities to lay down the law.
LEGISLATE (3.25) is fancied to lay down the law in the 1m2f handicap at Windsor today.
It's still possible to keep a light but guiding arm on our children as they become young adults - the trick is not to scream and shout or attempt to lay down the law as this simply alienates them.
MINISTER OF STATE (3.25) can lay down the law in the feature race at Newmarket today.
The first requirement is for a dressing room dictator, willing to lay down the law to the club's superstars.
TONY BLAIR will lay down the law to Ken Livingstone if, as expected, he wins the election for London Mayor this week.
And Ashley will lay down the law after being angered by a series of comments that have made by his coach.
CATE Blanchett really does know how to lay down the law in true Hollywood star