E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
The fundamental laws of a state. It may be either despotic, aristocratic, democratic, or mixed.
To give a nation a constitution is to give it fixed laws even to the limitation of the sovereigns rights, so that the people are not under the arbitrary caprice of a ruler, but under a known code of laws. A despotism or autocracy is solely under the unrestricted will of the despot or autocrat.