What do you call a country where the legal system is observed? I came up with a "nomocratic country", but that seems to be used extremely rarely. There is a Wikipedia page talking about the Rule of Law, but I cannot come up with a way how to twist it into an adjective (or adjective phrase, if there is such a thing) to describe a country.

The context

I found a sentence somewhere which reads "Since Czech republic is a modern legal country based on a democratical regime, there are fundamental human rights being guaranteed." and I am trying to figure out how to rewrite it. I got stuck with the "legal country". It is obviously wrong, but I cannot figure out what's better to say.

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    Can I say "law-abiding country"? I used to think that law-abiding goes together only with a citizen or so, but apparently the Internets seem to say it about countries as well… – user7610 Mar 18 '14 at 19:39
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    As opposed to what? I can’t think of any countries where observation of and obedience to the legal system is not the implicit and expected norm; nor of any country where this norm is not regularly broken by individuals. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 18 '14 at 19:54
  • It is a country where the rule of law is respected. – Affable Geek Mar 18 '14 at 19:55
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    With your added context, can you provide a source for your quote? Without more context, legitimate fits perfectly. But that doesn't necessarily mean it captures the original meaning. – Canis Lupus Mar 18 '14 at 20:36
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    user7610,the "how do you call" wording is incorrect in English. You should replace the how with what. You would benefit from reading the discussion at this link english.stackexchange.com/questions/150325/… – Tristan r Mar 18 '14 at 21:36

I think the expectation in most of the world would be for a lawful society.


constituted, authorized, or established by law.

The opposite is lawless or anarchic.


A legalistic society is one committed to strict, literal adherence to the law or to a particular code, as of religion or morality.

But with Google N Gram Viewer, this (legalistic) is beat out by

  • nomocracy (used 4.3 times more often today) and
  • nation of laws (used 1.67 times more often today).
  • The connotation would be wrong here, however. It would imply that they are so concerned with the letter of the law that they don't care about the spirit – Affable Geek Mar 18 '14 at 19:54
  • @Affable Geek - I don't see where that distinction was a concern of the OP's. – Canis Lupus Mar 18 '14 at 19:59
  • I haven't stated that explicitly, but I do care about that distinction. I am after a positive meaning, but I welcome the opportunity to learn how to call the to-letter obedience as well. – user7610 Mar 18 '14 at 20:14
  • @user7610 - if you are looking for something more specific, you should put the details into the body of your question. Not everybody reads the comments (not every body reads the whole question either, apparently, but they have to start there). – Canis Lupus Mar 18 '14 at 20:21
  • With the update in the question, I upvoted this for nomocracy, which I believe is exactly the meaning covered by ‘legal country’ in the example given. It doesn’t mean a country where the law is observed/obeyed, but a country whose government is based on the rule of law. That’s a different thing from what the question originally asked, but it fits better in the now available context. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 18 '14 at 20:35

Since your update with context I would suggest the following:

The Czech Republic is a modern democratic country, and its laws guarantee fundamental human rights.

I think this reworks the sentence you suggested without resorting to uncommon terminology.

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    Yes, reworking would be best. It could use law-based, or "...country whose Rule of Law guarantees..." – Andrew Leach Mar 19 '14 at 7:27

Wouldn't civilised be the best choice? After all, the law, when you get right down to it, is the nearest thing to a real version of the social contract we all [are supposed to] live by. Without it, civilisation - the large scale phenomenon, not little groups - would collapse.

  • No, because not every civilization adopts the "rule of law" concept. You can have perfectly civilized absolutist monarchy where the ruler is above the law. "Civilized" could probably be used in the example sentence, though, without changing the meaning. – user7610 Oct 19 at 18:12
  • Hi, I've noticed you've been posting a lot today. Good for you! I would like to offer some constructive criticism. I suggest that you find some sources that define your word choices. This answer, for example, is largely a statement of your opinion. On the other hand, had you shown a source saying that this is the definition of civilized then perhaps your answer would hold more validity. – David M Oct 20 at 4:27

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