- a law that rests for its authority on custom, judicial decision, etc., as distinguished from law originating in written command, statute, or decree.
- the unwritten law, the supposed principle of the right of the individual to avenge wrongs against personal or family honor, especially in cases involving relations between the sexes: sometimes urged in justification of persons guilty of criminal acts of vengeance.
Origin of unwritten law
First recorded in 1635–45
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for unwritten law
If they weren't sincere, why are there nothing but unwritten-law crimes all over France and Italy?The Limit
- the law based upon custom, usage, and judicial decisions, as distinguished from the enactments of a legislature, orders or decrees in writing, etc
- the unwritten law the tradition that a person may avenge any insult to family integrity, as used to justify criminal acts of vengeance
Idioms and Phrases with 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]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.