take the law into one's hands


Also, take the law into one's own hands. Replace the established authority with one's own, as in While the captain was on shore the sailors took the law into their own hands and sneaked the prisoner off the ship. Generally indicating disapproval of doing something forbidden, this idiom was first recorded in 1606.

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You may have read the word "simmer" in a recipe or two, but what does it really mean?
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.