to lay down the law

Idiom Definition

"to lay down the law"

to very strongly tell people what they must do, usually without regard for the opinion or feelings of other people

Idiom Definition - to lay down the law


Related words and phrases:

Idiom Scenario 1

Idiom Definition - to lay down the law

Johnny's bedroom is a mess.   There is dirty laundry and garbage and dirty dishes everywhere.  Johnny's room has been a mess for more than a week.  Johnny's mother has asked Johnny many times to clean his room.  Johnny has not complied.  It is time for Johnny's mother to...

lay down the law.

In this case laying down the law would imply some sort of consequences.  For example, if Johnny does not clean his room, then his mother will take away his video games.

Idiom Scenario 2

Idiom Definition - to lay down the law

Grace has had enough with Ned's gambling.  She has watched him lose money time and time again.  She wants Ned to quit gambling.  She has asked Ned many times to quit gambling.  Now it is time for Grace to...

lay down the law.

Again, there is usually some form of threat or consequence to non-compliance.  In this case, Grace may tell Ned that he must choose either her or gambling.

to lay down the law - Usage:


Usage Frequency Index:   355   click for frequency by country

to lay down the law - Gerund Form:

Laying down the law requires a strong will and determination.

to lay down the law - Examples:

1)  I lay down the law when my children need discipline.

2)  You lay down the law when you demand results.

3)  He lays down the law when his employees are not working hard.

4)  She lays down the law when her husband drinks too much.

5)  The school administration lays down the law when necessary.

6)  We lay down the law when it is necessary.

7)  You (all) lay down the law when there is danger to avoid.

8)  They lay down the law in the classroom when the children are misbehaving.

9)  Call a meeting of everyone in the office and lay down the law.

10)  Should I lay down the law and call the boy's parents or their teacher about this issue?

11)  It's hard to lay down the law.

12)  As a director, he prefers to watch and listen, rather than lay down the law.

13)  The more a Tory chancellor tries to lay down the law to Scotland, the stronger support for independence will become.

14)  Obama needs to lay down the law and make it clear that this coup will not stand.

15)  He must influence without laying down the law, and lay down the law without being obvious.

16)  My desire is rather to provoke discussion than to lay down the law.

17)  I'm a big fan of yours and the Clinic, but Sue's laid down the law and it's out of my hands.

18)  In one interview Tom told how his wife laid down the law when she found out about another affair.

19) The FA have laid down the law and charged John Terry with misconduct. 

20)  They laid down the law and I agreed to it out of politeness.