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English Idioms and Idiomatic Expressions 

LAW and ORDER, page 4

from:   'paper trail'   to:  'toe the line'

  • paper trail
    • If a person or organisation leaves a paper trail, they leave evidence in writing or in document form that will serve as proof of their actions.
      "The police found a paper trail which lead to the author of the hoax."

  • partner in crime
    • A person who helps you to plan something dishonest or unlawful is called your partner in crime.
      (This expression can be used jokingly as in the example below.)
      "Sam was my partner in crime. He hid my son's new bicycle until his birthday."

  • pervert the course of justice
    • If a person perverts the course of justice, they tell a lie or prevent the police from finding out the truth about something.
      "The suspect was accused of trying to pervert the course of justice."

  • poetic justice
    • Poetic justice is an ideal form of justice in which virtue is rewarded and evil punished, often in a particularly appropriate manner, by an ironic twist of fate.
      "It is poetic justice that the country responsible for the ecological disaster should suffer most from its effects."

  • put one's house in order
    • If you tell someone to put their house in order, you are saying that they should organise their own affairs or take care of their own problems before giving advice to other people.
      "You should put your house in order before telling me what to do!"

  • read someone the riot act
    • If you declare with force and authority that something must stop, and announce the consequences if it happens again, you read them the riot act.
      "Dad read us the riot act when we messed up his tool-shed."

  • rough justice
    • Treatment or justice that does not seem fair, or is too severe, is called 'rough justice', especially if it is not legal.
      "The way the player was treated by the media was very rough justice!"

  • sharp practice
    • Trying to achieve something by using underhand, deceitful or dishonourable means, that are barely within the law, is called sharp practice.
      "That company is under investigation for sharp practice so it's better to avoid dealing with them."

  • signed, sealed and delivered
    • When an agreement, contract or treaty is signed, sealed and delivered, all the legal documents are in order.
      "It is hoped that the agreement will be signed, sealed and delivered before the end of the week"

  • smoking gun
    • A smoking gun is a piece of evidence or the indisputable sign of someone's guilt.
      "The fingerprints left on the door-handle was the smoking gun that enabled the police to arrest him."

  • take the law into one's own hands
    • If, instead of calling the police, you personally take action against someone who has done something wrong, you take the law into your own hands.
      "Instead of calling the police, he took the law into his own hands and confronted the youth who had stolen his son's scooter."

  • toe the line
    • If someone toes the line, they obey the rules and accept the principles laid down by a person, group or organisation.
      "If you want to stay in this school, you'll have to learn to toe the line."

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