lay down the law


1. scold somebody or forcefully tell them what to do






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lay down the law to your students

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This expression means to rebuke or order people about without care for their feelings or opinions. However, it is not always used in a negative context. When a figure of authority, like a boss, parent, teacher etc. 'lays down the law,' it is often done for benefit of the recipient or for the greater good. It can be used in both a social and professional setting, though the latter is more common. A similar expression is 'crack the whip.'

Check Icon Social Examples (Basic)

  1. I used to play video games with my friends all day until my mother laid down the law to me and said that if I didn't get my act together I'd be out the door.
  2. When I started on the team our trainer laid down the law. If we missed practice we couldn't play.

Check Icon Professional Examples (Basic)

  1. As a teacher, you can't let your students walk all over you. You have to lay down the law to them.
  2. She's only been working here a month, yet she thinks she has the right to go round laying down the law to everyone.

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