Well, she was that frightened, she'd always been such a gatless girl, that she didn't so much as know how to spin, and what was she to do tomorrow with no one to come nigh her to help her? She sat down on a stool in the kitchen, and law! how she did cry!

This content is from "Tom Tit Tot" in English fairy tales.

I know the meaning of "law" as "canon" but I think the meaning is unnatural in this context. What is the meaning of " law" in this case?

2 Answers 2


It's an archaic interjection completely unrelated to the modern word "law". Compare to "lo and behold".

From http://www.dictionary.com/browse/law?s=t :

law /lɔ/ interjection, Older Use. 1. (used as an exclamation expressing astonishment.)


The cited ("lowbrow", "unrefined speech") usage has been declining over centuries as an "authentic" expression. It's a very thinly-disguised euphemism, falling slightly short of a potentially blasphemous appeal to God - Lord!

You'll usually see it transcribed as Lawks! You'll sometimes encounter it even today as the (facetious, overtly "non-authentic") mock-archaic/peasant exclamation Lawks-a-mussy! = Lord have mercy [on me/us]!

My advice - don't use it yourself today (except facetiously, and only then if you know when it's "appropriate").

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