unwritten law


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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 periodicals archive ?
the unwritten law of nations with respect to safe-conducts.
"local" portion of the state's unwritten law, such as the
Even so, neither did the formal law of murder override the unwritten law as Thaw's first jury hung.
TIMELESS ADVICE FOR ENGINEERS The Unwritten Laws of Engineering by W.
In each case, the defendant's defense relied on the 'unwritten law' that justified the killing of anyone offending Southern notions of female virtue, male honor, or sanctity of marriage.
Subsequent to the "Kentucky Tragedy," the American legal system invented an unwritten law that sometimes acquitted husbands who killed their wives' paramours, an invention that could not have occurred in the Beauchamp trial because the defendant denied his guilt.
On the other hand, the Confucian account of ritual propriety can supplement Aristotle's "all too brief account of unwritten law." Confucians are peculiarly sensitive to what Aristotelians call "ethos," insofar as they have an acute sense of the way in which ceremony and ritual focus and intensify custom and moral practice.
HEATHER LAIRD Subversive Law in Ireland, 1879-1920: From "Unwritten Law" to the Dail Courts.
Chicagoans, like other Americans during this era, frequently invoked a plastic concept known as the "unwritten law." In its purest form, the unwritten law permitted--indeed required--a man to kill the scoundrel who "attacked" or "dishonored" his wife, daughter, or sister.
The UK constitution is a mixture of written and unwritten law that has evolved and been adapted over time.
IT'S an unwritten law of travel that no matter how far across the globe you go there is always one pasty-faced Scot in an Old Firm top.
In 2002, a network of 17 Anglican legal advisers (now formally constituted as the Anglican Communion Legal Advisers' Network, see sidebar on this page) met in Canterbury to study a draft document stating that "communion with Canterbury is a necessary part of the self-understanding of each member church of the Anglican Communion" and that it was one principle of canon law "common to the communion." The group had met after primates acknowledged that "the unwritten law common to the churches of the Anglican Communion may be understood to constitute a fifth instrument of unity in the communion" and had requested that a "statement of principles" regarding canon law be identified.
Some controversial films are The Unwritten Law, Johnson-Jeffries Fight, and Birth of a Nation.
I have long believed the unwritten law that the greater the availability of TV in our daily life, the worse the programming.