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From Biology-Online Dictionary | Biology-Online Dictionary
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1. A local or subordinate law; a private law or regulation made by a corporation for its own government. There was likewise a law to restrain the by-laws, or ordinances of corporations. (Bacon) The law or institution; to which are added two by-laws, as a comment upon the general law. (Addison)

2. A law that is less important than a general law or constitutional provision, and subsidiary to it; a rule relating to a matter of detail; as, civic societies often adopt a constitution and by-laws for the government of their members. In this sense the word has probably been influenced by by, meaning secondary or aside.

Origin: Cf.Sw.bylag, D.bylov, Icel.barlog, fr.Sw.& dan. By town, Icel. Baer, byr (fr. Bua to dwell) _ the word for law; hence, a law for one town, a special law. Cf.Birlaw and see law.