Understanding the Idiom: "have the law of someone" - Meaning, Origins, and Usage

Idiom language: English

When we talk about having the law of someone, we are referring to a situation where one person has control or power over another. This idiom is often used in situations where one person is able to dictate what another person can or cannot do. It can be seen as a form of dominance or authority, where one person holds all the cards.

The origins of this idiom are not clear, but it is likely that it comes from legal terminology. In legal terms, having the law on your side means that you have a strong case and are likely to win in court. Having the law of someone could therefore mean that you have an advantage over them, either legally or otherwise.

This idiom can be used in a variety of contexts, from personal relationships to business dealings. For example, if someone owes you money and you have evidence to prove it, you might say that you have the law of them and demand payment. Similarly, if an employer has strict rules about attendance and punctuality, they might say that they have the law of their employees when enforcing these rules.

Origins and Historical Context of the Idiom “have the law of someone”

The idiom “have the law of someone” is a common expression used in English to describe a situation where one person has control or power over another. The origins of this phrase can be traced back to ancient times when societies were governed by strict laws and regulations.

In early civilizations, laws were often enforced through physical punishment or retribution. Those who held positions of authority had the power to enforce these laws and punish those who broke them. This gave them a significant amount of control over others, which is reflected in the modern-day use of the idiom.

Throughout history, there have been many examples where individuals or groups have had the law of others. In feudal societies, lords had complete control over their subjects and could impose harsh punishments for even minor offenses. Similarly, during periods of colonization, colonizers imposed their own laws on indigenous populations, often with devastating consequences.

Today, while we may no longer live under such extreme forms of governance, the idea that some people hold more power than others still exists. The idiom “have the law of someone” continues to be used as a way to describe situations where one person has an unfair advantage over another.

Usage and Variations of the Idiom “have the law of someone”

The idiom “have the law of someone” is a common expression used in English language. This phrase refers to having control or power over another person, often through legal means. It can be used in various contexts, including personal relationships, business dealings, and even politics.


While the basic meaning of this idiom remains constant across different contexts, there are several variations that can alter its nuance and tone. For example:

  • “Have the upper hand”: This variation implies a more dominant position than simply having control over someone else.
  • “Hold all the cards”: This variation suggests complete control over a situation or negotiation.
  • “Call the shots”: This variation emphasizes being in charge and making important decisions.


This idiom is commonly used in both formal and informal settings. In personal relationships, it may refer to one partner having power over another due to financial or emotional dependence. In business dealings, it may refer to one party having leverage over another due to contractual agreements or legal disputes.

In politics, this phrase can be used to describe a government’s ability to enforce laws and regulations on its citizens. It can also refer to countries with more powerful militaries exerting their influence on smaller nations.

Synonyms, Antonyms, and Cultural Insights for the Idiom “have the law of someone”

When it comes to understanding idioms, it’s important to explore their synonyms and antonyms. These words can provide a deeper understanding of the meaning behind the phrase “have the law of someone”. Additionally, cultural insights can help shed light on how this idiom is used in different contexts.

Synonyms: Some synonyms for “have the law of someone” include: have power over someone, have control over someone, dominate someone. Each of these phrases suggests that one person has authority or influence over another.

Antonyms: Conversely, some antonyms for “have the law of someone” might include: be at mercy to someone, be powerless against someone. These phrases suggest that one person lacks control or authority in a situation.

Cultural Insights: The idiom “have the law of someone” is often used in legal settings or discussions about power dynamics. It may also be used colloquially to describe situations where one person has an advantage over another. In American culture specifically, there is a strong emphasis on individual rights and freedoms – so having “the law” on your side can carry significant weight in many situations.


“The CEO had the law of his employees and could make decisions without consulting them.”

“I feel like my boss always has the law of me – I never get a say in anything!”

Practical Exercises for Mastering the Idiom “Have Control Over Someone”

In order to truly understand and use the idiom “have control over someone,” it is important to practice using it in various contexts. The following exercises will help you become more comfortable with this expression and better able to incorporate it into your everyday conversations.

  • Exercise 1: Use the idiom in a sentence that describes a situation where someone has complete authority over another person.
  • Exercise 2: Create a dialogue between two people where one person uses the idiom to describe their relationship with another individual.
  • Exercise 3: Write a short story that incorporates the idiom, highlighting its meaning and usage within the context of the narrative.
  • Exercise 4: Watch a movie or TV show and identify instances where characters use the idiom. Take note of how they use it and what situations they are describing.

By practicing these exercises, you will gain a deeper understanding of how to use “have control over someone” effectively in conversation. Remember, idioms are an important part of any language, so take time to master them and improve your communication skills!

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using the Idiom “have the law of someone”

When using idioms, it’s important to understand their meaning and usage in context. The idiom “have the law of someone” is no exception. However, even with a good understanding of its definition, there are common mistakes that people make when using this expression.

Mistake #1: Misusing the Pronoun

The idiom “have the law of someone” refers to having power or control over another person. It’s important to note that “someone” in this phrase refers to a specific individual and not a general group or entity. Therefore, saying something like “I have the law over my employees” would be incorrect usage.

Mistake #2: Overusing the Idiom

While idioms can add color and personality to language, overusing them can make your speech or writing sound unnatural or forced. It’s best to use idioms sparingly and only when they fit naturally into your sentence structure.

Leave a Reply

;-) :| :x :twisted: :smile: :shock: :sad: :roll: :razz: :oops: :o :mrgreen: :lol: :idea: :grin: :evil: :cry: :cool: :arrow: :???: :?: :!: