The meaning of, and background to, the well-known expression "Live and let live.

Well-Known Expressions

Live and let live

Meaning:

Run your own life the way you want to, and let others do the same; be tolerant of differences.

Background:

This proverb is Dutch in origin and is first recorded in Ancient Law Merchant by G. De Malynes, published in 1622. It was later included in a book of English proverbs collected by John Ray in 1678.

The Law Merchant or lex mercatoria, was a system of law developed by medieval merchants to regulate commerce throughout the known world of Europe, North Africa, and Asia Minor. The laws had their roots in the days before nation states existed as such, and were based on the premise that laws should evolve from the commercial practises themselves, and that merchants, not local rulers, were the best source for creating and, I believe, policing the laws.

Much of today's commercial law is still based on the basic premises laid down by the Law Merchants.

Alphabetical list of expressions

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