I need to find the proper abstract noun that can describe rules that are either issued at ministry level in some government and laws that are issued at the nation/presidential level.

After making some research on dictionaries and Wikipedia I found that:

  • Law is only at the country level not at ministry level (My understanding)
  • Rule can better be used for lower authorities (My understanding)
  • Pronouncement does not necessarily imply rules
  • Edict "often associated with monarchism, but it can be under any official authority."
  • Decree "usually issued by a head of state"
  • Proclamation "usually issued in the name of the head of state"

I checked also ordinance, dictum, ruling with no luck to get a clear idea

I need a term that can be generally accepted for use in most countries in official use (like in courts)

If it is hard to find a term that can generally fit, let's consider Egypt.

  • I think the UK term for such rules us 'regulations'. – Spagirl Sep 20 '17 at 7:47
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    "only at the country level not at ministry level" How are these levels meaningfully different? (that's an honest question, not a claim that you're wrong) – Flater Sep 20 '17 at 7:54
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    @mmonem: In the US, there is "state law" and "federal law", but "the law" is comprised of them both. I think this is equally applicable to any other country. – Flater Sep 20 '17 at 8:05
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    UK view: "Rules" are what you find in board game instructions. "Laws" are set by government (country level). I'm not really sure what you'd call things from local councils (lower authorities); I agree they don't make "laws", but maybe they can make "regulations" or "legislation". I do think you might find that terms change depending on country (especially as lower authorities in different countries have different authority) but I doubt enough people here know Egypt well enough for you to get a reliable answer with votes. – AndyT Sep 20 '17 at 9:14
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    @AndyT, local councils make "by-laws" in en-GB. – Peter Taylor Sep 20 '17 at 20:49

In the United Kingdom, this is all legislation.

Acts of Parliament and some other instruments such as Church of England Measures are called primary legislation.

Regulations issued by a minister are secondary legislation. They have force because some piece of primary legislation allows those regulations to be made.

legislation noun

[mass noun]

  1. Laws, considered collectively.
    ‘housing legislation’


  • Legislation doesn't include rules, only laws. – Billy Aug 22 '18 at 22:25
  • @Billy Actually, in the United Kingdom, legislation does include rules. – Andrew Leach Aug 23 '18 at 5:53
  • @Billy, legislation not only includes rules, it mostly consists of rules, legal rules. The meaning of the word rules is not restricted to the regulations issued by the executive departments (ministers), which is what both you and the OP seem to assume. – jsw29 Aug 24 '18 at 15:14
  • @AndrewLeach, it should be noted that legislation does not include the rules embodied in the caselaw; whether the OP's question was intended to cover them is not clear. – jsw29 Aug 24 '18 at 15:18
  • @jsw Nowhere in my answer or comments have I suggested that it does. Case law provides an authoritative interpretation of the legislator's intention. – Andrew Leach Aug 24 '18 at 15:37

At the US federal level, this is all law.

Constitutional amendments approved by the legislature and the states are constitutional law.¹

Treaties approved by the executive and the legislature are part of international law.²

Ordinary federal legislation approved by the executive and the legislature, or else the legislature alone, is federal law.³

Regulations created by executive-branch agencies on authority granted by the legislature, and the rules governing that process, and letters of interpretation issued by the agencies, are administrative law.


If you're talking about governmental rules and law, then that is called "public policy." Public policy is a field of study, and organizations like The Brookings Institution specialize in researching and writing it.

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