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10 Law & Legal Related Idioms


10 Law & Legal Related Idioms

Hello Teachifyers!

In today’s blog post we are going to be taking a look at 10 useful law and legal related idioms. As always you can use each of these colloquial expressions in a variety of different ways.



1. A Law Unto Themselves

If somebody is a law unto themselves, it means that they follow their own rules instead of doing what other people say.

  • John is a law unto himself , the teacher’s can never get him to do what they want at school.

2. Above Board

If something is above board it means that it is all completely legal and honest.

  • The investigator wanted to confirm that Christiano Ronaldo’s tax records were above board.

3. To Cook the Books

Cooking the books means to falsify numbers or reports.

  • The accountant was arrested for cooking the books. He was found guilty of fraud.


4. Mend Your Ways

To mend your ways means to correct your behavior and stop breaking the law/rules.  

  • John really mended his ways after going to prison.

5. Caught Red Handed

To be caught whist in the act of doing a crime.

  • The defendant is definitely guilty of the crime, he was caught red handed.



6. Grease Someone's Palm

To pay somebody money or a bribe in exchange for a favour.

  • The only way to get anything done around here is to grease some palms.

7. Red Tape

Bureaucratic rules and regulations which make things take longer than they should.

  • The problem with Spain is that there is so much red tape around every bureaucratic procedure, it takes forever to get anything done.

8. To Beat the Rap

To be found innocent of a crime.

  • Although all evidence pointed to Peter committing the crime, he somehow managed to beat the rap.

9. A Slap on the Wrist

When somebody is given a light punishment for a crime.

  • The crime wasn’t so serious so the judge gave the defendant a slap on the wrist.

10. Fall From Grace

When a once highly regarded person loses a lot of respect from their peers.

  • Simon had a real fall from grace after his drunk driving incident. 

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