noun pre·cept \ˈprē-ˌsept\

: a rule that says how people should behave

Full Definition of PRECEPT

:  a command or principle intended especially as a general rule of action
:  an order issued by legally constituted authority to a subordinate official

Examples of PRECEPT

  1. the basic precepts of a religion
  2. I was taught by precept and by example.

Origin of PRECEPT

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin praeceptum, from neuter of praeceptus, past participle of praecipere to take beforehand, instruct, from prae- + capere to take — more at heave
First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of PRECEPT

law, rule, regulation, precept, statute, ordinance, canon mean a principle governing action or procedure. law implies imposition by a sovereign authority and the obligation of obedience on the part of all subject to that authority <obey the law>. rule applies to more restricted or specific situations <the rules of the game>. regulation implies prescription by authority in order to control an organization or system <regulations affecting nuclear power plants>. precept commonly suggests something advisory and not obligatory communicated typically through teaching <the precepts of effective writing>. statute implies a law enacted by a legislative body <a statute requiring the use of seat belts>. ordinance applies to an order governing some detail of procedure or conduct enforced by a limited authority such as a municipality <a city ordinance>. canon suggests in nonreligious use a principle or rule of behavior or procedure commonly accepted as a valid guide <the canons of good taste>.


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