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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for doctrine


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Did You Know?

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Good stuff for on-screen political thrillers, but wildly inconsistent with the constitutional separation-of-powers doctrine that peacefully keeps our three branches of government from interfering with each other’s operations. Daniel S. Alter, Time, "If John Bolton Keeps Refusing to Testify, Congress Should Arrest Him," 21 Nov. 2019 That belief in betrayal through unauthorized disclosure confirms and normalizes Vice Media doctrine; the film zips past examining whatever personal and political ethics Jones might have had. Armond White, National Review, "The Report’s Enhanced Cynicism Techniques," 20 Nov. 2019 Twice before, Boeing has used the forum non conveniens doctrine to transfer cases related to crashes in Indonesia out of United States courts. David Gelles, New York Times, "Boeing Aims to Move Victim Lawsuits Abroad, but C.E.O. Says He Is Unaware," 10 Nov. 2019 The one difference is that there's no single leader who dictates the culture and doctrine. Elle Reeve, CNN, "She went from a liberal non-voter to burning books with white supremacists. Here's why she finally left the movement," 30 Oct. 2019 Although there’s no official doctrine barring Catholic priests from marrying, it’s been effectively banned for centuries., "Fleabag's 'Hot Priest' Andrew Scott applauds possibility of Pope Francis allowing priests to marry," 9 Oct. 2019 Harvard University law professor Adrian Vermeule recently proposed co-opting liberal institutions and harnessing them to impose Catholic social and political doctrines upon everyone else. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Liberalism Is at a Crossroads, Not a Dead End," 12 Sep. 2019 Through these hukamnamas, Sikhs have been provided with guidance and clarification on doctrines and tradition. Sondeep Sankar, Quartz India, "In photos: A glorious history of Sikhism," 3 Sep. 2019 Redbox argued that it was allowed to resell the movie codes because of the first sale doctrine, which provides that someone who lawfully acquires a copyrighted work is entitled to sell or dispose of their copy. Eriq Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter, "Redbox Agrees to Never Again Sell Disney's Movie Download Codes," 15 Nov. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about doctrine

Time Traveler for doctrine

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for doctrine

Last Updated

5 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Doctrine.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 10 December 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on doctrine

What made you want to look up doctrine? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to state or do over again or repeatedly

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Semantic Drift Quiz

  • a twisty river
  • Which of the following was once a synonym for fun?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!