long arm of the law, the

The far-reaching power of the authorities. For example, You'll never get away with leaving work early; the long arm of the law is bound to catch you. This expression began as Kings have long arms (or hands) and was listed as a proverb in 1539. The current version, now often used lightly, was first recorded in 1908.


Nearby words

  1. long abductor muscle of thumb,
  2. long account,
  3. long ago,
  4. long and short of it, the,
  5. long arm,
  6. long axis,
  7. long barrow,
  8. long beach,
  9. long bone,
  10. long branch

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.