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 This doctrine applies to nearly all workers, with some notable exceptions. Star Tribune, "COVID sparks more job protection for workers," 17 Jan. 2021 The question is: What is doctrine and what is practice? The Salt Lake Tribune, "What you may not know about Mormon historian Richard Bushman — for one, he was agnostic when he went on his mission," 31 Dec. 2020 The doctrine was originally crafted to protect resources that are of public benefit. oregonlive, "Oregon Supreme Court rules against youth plaintiffs in climate change lawsuit," 23 Oct. 2020 One recently traveled to an obscure village in southeastern China to study Xi Jinping’s doctrine for guiding the country to greatness. New York Times, "In Hong Kong, a New Party Calls for Stability (and Raises Suspicions)," 16 Jan. 2021 Russo also found that the Portland officers weren’t liable, protected by the qualified immunity doctrine. oregonlive, "Judges dismiss or recommend throwing out 2 civil suits that challenged Portland police ‘kettling’ tactic," 12 Jan. 2021 The doctrine holds that officers are largely not liable to be sued for actions committed while on duty. Washington Post, "Trump policing commission calls for independent probes of officer shootings, more technology use," 3 Jan. 2021 The court voted 4–3 against Trump, relying on the laches doctrine to excuse any illegality. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, "Biden Won Wisconsin, but It Was Even Closer Than Reported," 17 Dec. 2020 During the pandemic, courts are operating without time constraints, which means the speedy trial doctrine isn’t currently a major factor, Boswell said. Alexandra Kukulka,, "Jury trials in Indiana suspended through March 1: ‘It’s difficult for people who have cases pending and want to see them resolved’," 15 Dec. 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.

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

24 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Doctrine.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for doctrine



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 doctrine (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).


Test Your Vocabulary

February 2021 Words of the Day Quiz

  • squirrel in winter
  • Which is a synonym of perdure?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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