I was researching the etymology of 'legacy' when I saw that lex was imputed to PIE *leg-. Why? How does law or contracts relate to collecting and gathering?

Etymonline (see link above) mentions that *leg- is a Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to collect, gather."

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    I warmly recommend that you ask your questions in a format closer to what I edited this one into. Keep to the point and don't quote Etymonline entries. You can give a link and quote a couple of words as needed. If you want to make a question longer, do so by adding your own elaboration written in paragraphs of text. Also, please remember that not everything in languages and etymology can be made sense of. Etymology does not imply meaning.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jul 19, 2019 at 7:43

1 Answer 1


Lewis and Short connect lex to ligo instead of lego. Either way, the word lex seems to have no visible connection to collecting or binding or anything like that. Perhaps a law was originally considered to be a collection of edicts or something that binds people? Either verb makes some sense.

How a word like lex evolved to mean what it means is a good question, but can be too difficult to answer. The entry in L&S makes no mention of any meanings that would be closer to an "underlying meaning". This seems to be yet another word that has cut its ties to its own etymology: its history does not dictate what it is but it has started an independent life of its own.

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    I could cite (in the interest of increasing confusion) religio as another kind of "binding". Laws do bind, after all. Jul 19, 2019 at 8:17
  • @MartinKochanski Good point! I had meant to have an interpretation of law using both lego and ligo. I now added the binding view. (Regarding your recent flag, you can see a response on your flag page. If you want to discuss further, I suggest chat or meta.)
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jul 19, 2019 at 8:21

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