1. (UK Und.) a type of criminal activity [OF lei; ult. Lat. legem, law; synon. with lay n.3 (1)].
|Detection of Vyle and Detestable Use of Dice Play 18: Thus they give their own conveyance the name of cheating law.|
|Notable Discovery of Coosnage in Grosart (1881–3) X 36: A table of the words of art, vsed in the effecting these base villanies. Wherein is discouered the nature of euery terme, being proper to none but to the professors thereof. 1 High law robbing by the highway side. 2 Sacking law lecherie. 3 Cheting law play at false dice. 4 Cros-biting law cosenage by whores. 5 Cony-catching law cosenage by cards. 6 Versing law cosenage by false gold. 7 Figging law cutting of purses, & picking of pockets. 8 Barnards law a drunken cosenage by cards.|
|(ref. to 16C) Professional Thief (1956) 224: The [16C] thieves developed a large number of specialities which at the time were known as ‘laws’ and at present as rackets.|
2. (orig. US) constr. with the, the police.
|Love Makes a Man III i: elv.: What is’t pursues you, Sir? clo.: An outcry of Officers; the Law’s at my Heels, Madam.|
|Spring And Autumn I iii: The law’s at my heels, and I never could run in my life.|
|‘The Transport’s Complaint’ in Knowing Chaunter 36: I’m nail’d sure enough by the beaks and the law.|
|Mill on the Floss (1985) II 306: He’d set the law on you – the law’s made to take care o’ raskills.|
|Life on the Mississippi (1914) 496: Are you going to give him up to the law?|
|‘“Dossing Out” and “Camping”’ in Roderick (1972) 163: The Law came along now and then, and had a careless look at the unemployed in bed.|
|Actors’ Boarding House (1906) 88: A billy, wielded by the fearless hand of the Law, cracked him on the head.|
|Marvel 27 Oct. 383: Would the law draw a pistol on itself?|
|Psmith Journalist (1993) 294: The Law was now about to clean up the place.|
|Porgy (1945) 19: Out with it. I don’t want to have to put the law on you.|
|Flynn of the Inland 84: He caught the glint of a policeman’s cap: the steady eyes of the Law searched his face as he passed.|
|Really the Blues 266: All I could think of was that the law had nailed Mike and Mackey.|
|Police Headquarters (1956) 167: ‘I’m the law. Put your hands up,’ he yelled.|
|Crust on its Uppers 23: The law thought it had got him down to kiting.|
|Casey and Co. 82: ‘Come on, woman [...] I’m arresting you.’ She looked up. Beside her stood a khaki-clad, hefty man. The Law!‘Riot’|
|Life and Times of Little Richard 51: Then I got into trouble with the law.|
|Yes We have No 232: The law came knocking at 6 a.m.|
|Layer Cake 1: Suddenly a flashlight’s pointed straight in my face [...] It’s the law.|
|Viva La Madness 355: Need to know if the law are coming.|
3. with the article deliberately omitted, a police officer; occas. a private detective.
|Enemy to Society 32: All you have got to do is to go ‘to law,’ and you will get it back and the one who takes it will be sent to prison.|
|Story Omnibus (1966) 334: You’re law, I’m thief. I’m staying on my side of the fence.‘$106,000 Blood Money’|
|Thieves Like Us (1999) 5: Now Laws jumping us here.|
|Enemy Coast Ahead (1955) 78: I stepped on the gas; how we missed the law I do not know. I remember his lamp going one way and his legs the other.|
|Entrapment (2009) 139: ‘This cop isn’t some two-hundred-pound flatfoot wearin’ a badge’ [...] ‘I’d know he was law all the same, Daddy’.‘Watch Out for Daddy’ in|
|Look Long Upon a Monkey 186: They had had a long, silent time in the gloomy passage outside the C.I.D. office: Stringy and the two young law.|
|Walk in the Night (1968) 67: We saw some law going into your place. Heard a rooker got chopped or something.|
|Shaft 167: He had wondered if they were mob, not law.|
|Decadence in Decadence and Other Plays (1985) 9: Odd judge MP and law sniff round the seamy door.|
|‘Pocket Full of Stones’ [lyrics] Started payin off the laws so I wouldn’t catch a case.|
|Outlaws (ms.) 10: He won’t tell us who he’s paying off, whether there’s law on board.|
4. in attrib. use of sense 3.
|Viper 107: It was the easier sale of the stuff [i.e. cannabis] that was directly responsible for the extra law activity.|
5. (US prison) a prison warder.
|Sat. Eve. Post 13 Apr.; list extracted in AS VI:2 (1930) 133: Law, the, n. Prison guard.‘The Chatter of Guns’ in|
|Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).|
|Other Side of the Wall: Prisoner’s Dict. July [Internet] Laws: Correctional officers. (TX).|
a police car.
|Frying-Pan 140: They’ve got me sealed off in an alley [...] with a Law-car pulled across each end.|
(US) a police officer.
|Connecticut Yankee 482: A sort of raiment which was a surer protection from meddling law-dogs in Britain than any amount of mere innocence.|
|Pleasant Jim 303: If everything can’t be arranged the way I want – all the law dogs called off.|
|Little Men, Big World 254: Looks like the hounds treed the coon after all. I guess that’s nature. The coon ain’t got a chance.|
|Judas Tree (1983) 71: You talk like he’s some tough lawdog.|
a law-enforcement officer.
|Sword-Swallower 74: Knowing the hatred there is between the ‘lawmen’ and carny people.|
|Mr Love and Justice (1964) 168: The law man had now departed.|
|Stand On It (1979) 64: Ed raised one hand and waggled all his fingers at the lawman.|
|Murder and Chips 69: [i.e. a policeman] Got turfed out because he lost his cool at a demo [...] Meet him sometimes on the road. Stops for a chitchat. Misses you lawboys.|
|Judas Tree (1983) 50: I was a lawman myself once!|
|Guardian Weekend 10 July 21: Four men were eventually charged with the first-degree murders of the two lawmen.|
|Hooky Gear 27: Once them words get in a lawmans head life become simple.|
(US) a lawyer.
|Sandburrs 155: A dip named Jim Butts comes an’ touts this law sharp away.‘Joe DuBuque’s Luck’ in|
|Sudden Takes the Trail 145: Sloppy, d’yu know much about that law-sharp yu mentioned to me?|
a police station.
|Frying-Pan 82: If I had a drop too much [...] they’d have me up in the Law-shop.|
|Grass Arena (1990) 111: When we got to the law shop over Euston way, they took me in the CID room.|
a police station.
|Bang To Rights 50: After a while we came to a law station where we stopped.|
see under down adv.2
to give someone a chance.
|, ,||Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.|
|, ,||Sl. Dict.|