doc·​trine | \ ˈdäk-trən How to pronounce doctrine (audio) \

Definition of doctrine

1a : a principle or position or the body of principles in a branch of knowledge or system of belief : dogma Catholic doctrine
b : a statement of fundamental government policy especially in international relations the Truman Doctrine
c law : a principle of law established through past decisions
d : a military principle or set of strategies
e : something that is taught
2 archaic : teaching, instruction

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Synonyms for doctrine


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The original doctrines were those of the Catholic Church, especially as taught by the so-called doctors (religious scholars) of the Church. But today a doctrine can come from many other sources. Old and established legal principles are called legal doctrine. Traditional psychiatrists still follow the doctrines of Sigmund Freud. Communist doctrine in the 1920s and ʼ30s was often the teachings of Lenin, which were then regarded in the Soviet Union as almost sacred. U.S. presidents have given their names to doctrines as well: In 1823 the Monroe Doctrine stated that the United States would oppose European influence in the Americas, and in 1947 the Truman Doctrine held that America would support free countries against enemies outside and inside.

Examples of doctrine in a Sentence

The government was founded on a doctrine of equality for all people. Many psychologists now question the doctrines of Sigmund Freud. teaching religious doctrine to young people
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Recent Examples on the Web Luhnow’s hyper-efficient management doctrine spread to other franchises and even to MLB’s central office. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "Former Astros GM's lawsuit claims firing part of deal to save team's World Series title," 9 Nov. 2020 Mormon doctrine holds that those who have passed on can choose to accept or reject the ordinance. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Jews rejoice as Utah’s Ancestry makes available millions of Holocaust records," 28 Aug. 2020 Western governments are taking a page from their Asian rivals and moving away from the free-market doctrine that defined their economic thinking for decades, instead embracing greater state control of business activity. Tom Fairless, WSJ, "Western Economies Embrace State Intervention, Emulating Asia," 5 Nov. 2020 The independent state legislature doctrine takes this allocation of duties to an extreme. Ian Macdougall, ProPublica, "ProPublica’s Guide to 2020 Election Laws and Lawsuits," 3 Nov. 2020 Questions of constitutionality plagued the doctrine, and it was revoked in 1987. Sandee Lamotte, CNN, "Americans hate political opponents more than they love their own party, study finds," 29 Oct. 2020 In a divided ruling, the Oregon Supreme Court determined that the natural resources listed in the lawsuit, from water to wildlife, were not the state’s responsibility to maintain, at least under the public trust doctrine. Tim Gruver, Washington Examiner, "Oregon high court strikes down environmental lawsuit by Oregon youths," 23 Oct. 2020 Courtney Johnson, who represents Chernaik and Juliana, argued that the state has a duty to protect resources that fall under the public trust doctrine. oregonlive, "Oregon Supreme Court rules against youth plaintiffs in climate change lawsuit," 23 Oct. 2020 Davis sought to have the case against her dismissed, arguing she was shielded from civil lawsuits under a legal doctrine known as qualified immunity, but the lower courts declined to grant her request and allowed the dispute to move forward. Melissa Quinn, CBS News, "Supreme Court turns away appeal from ex-Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis," 5 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'doctrine.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of doctrine

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for doctrine

Middle English, from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French, from Latin doctrina, from doctor

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Time Traveler for doctrine

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The first known use of doctrine was in the 14th century

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Statistics for doctrine

Last Updated

26 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Doctrine.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for doctrine


How to pronounce doctrine (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of doctrine

: a set of ideas or beliefs that are taught or believed to be true
US : a statement of government policy especially in international relations


doc·​trine | \ ˈdäk-trən How to pronounce doctrine (audio) \

Kids Definition of doctrine

: something (as a rule or principle) that is taught, believed in, or considered to be true


doc·​trine | \ ˈdäk-trən How to pronounce doctrine (audio) \

Legal Definition of doctrine

: a principle established through judicial decisions — compare law, precedent

Other Words from doctrine

doctrinal \ -​trə-​nəl How to pronounce doctrinal (audio) \ adjective

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