Law or Lore?

What Is the Difference between "Law" and "Lore"?

"Law" and "lore" are easy to confuse because they sound identical (i.e., they are perfect homonyms). However, their meanings are very different.
  • "Law" means a rule (or a collection of rules) or a general principle (usually of science). For example:
    • You must abide by the law. correct tick
    • Why does it float? It is against the laws of science. correct tick
  • Colloquially, "the law" means the police.
    • She works for the law. correct tick
  • "Lore" is knowledge or tradition passed from generation to generation.
    • According to folklore, your face will stay like that if the wind changes. correct tick
  • "Lores" are the sides of a bird's head.
    • It was a large parrot with red lores. correct tick
law or lore?

More about "Law" and "Lore"

The words law and lore are homonyms (specifically, homophones) because they sound identical. However, they have difference meanings.


The noun "law" has three main meanings:

(1) A rule or collection of rules imposed by authority

For example:
  • That is against the law. correct tick
  • He studied Law. correct tick
  • (Like "Mathematics" and "Science," "Law" is written with a capital letter when it refers to the subject for study.)
  • The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly. correct tick (US President Abraham Lincoln)

(2) A universal principle that describes something's fundamental nature

For example:
  • The laws of physics correct tick
  • Kofi Annan told the international conference: "It has been said that arguing against globalization is like arguing against the laws of gravity."correct tick
  • Human judges can show mercy. But against the laws of nature, there is no appeal. correct tick (Writer Authur C Clarke)
  • (The first half of this quotation alludes to law meaning a rule imposed by authority, but the second half refers to law meaning something's fundamental characteristics.)

(3) The police (colloquial)

For example:
  • Run. It's the law. correct tick


The noun "lore" is most commonly seen in the word "folklore." "Lore" has two main meanings:

(1) Tradition or knowledge passed from generation to generation (often by word of mouth through legend or anecdote)

For example:
  • Vampire bats and good-looking, sophisticated vampires have only recently become part of the traditional vampire lore. correct tick
  • According to folklore, if it rains on St Swithin's Day, it will rain for the next 40 days. correct tick
  • (Folklore means traditional beliefs, legends, and customs.)

(2) The surfaces on each side of an animal's head (most commonly birds and snakes)

For example:
lores on a bird
yellow-lored Amazon parrot


There is no such word as "folklaw." It's "folklore."
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This page was written by Craig Shrives.