pre·​cept | \ ˈprē-ˌsept How to pronounce precept (audio) \

Definition of precept

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

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Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of precept in a Sentence

the basic precepts of a religion I was taught by precept and by example.
Recent Examples on the Web His thoughts need almost no alteration for modern times and are still excellent advice, perhaps especially for a world in quarantine (with the exception of precepts 6 and 7; see below). Verlyn Klinkenborg, The New York Review of Books, "An English Clergyman’s Advice For Quarantine," 14 May 2020 Princeton, the Ivy League university located in New Jersey, said all lectures, seminars, and precepts will be moved to virtual instruction starting on March 23, after spring break, according to Princeton University President Chris Eisgruber. Chris Boyette, CNN, "Universities in Washington, California and New York cancel in-person classes due to coronavirus," 9 Mar. 2020 The precepts laid down there form the foundations of the medical philosophies that shape our health care today. Jordan Kisner, The Atlantic, "Reiki Can’t Possibly Work. So Why Does It?," 7 Mar. 2020 Traditional precepts like employees being expected to never close and leave the office before their boss highlight a system optimized for perception and fear of authority rather than actual productivity. Yomi Kazeem, Quartz Africa, "Even a global pandemic won’t be enough to trigger a work-from-home revolution in Nigeria," 20 Mar. 2020 Until that year, steering clear of foreign rivalries had constituted a sacred precept of American statecraft. Andrew J. Bacevich, Harper's magazine, "The Old Normal," 2 Mar. 2020 The imitation of moral precepts—as opposed to Chinese-style imitation of technology—required a degree of self-abnegation. The Economist, "The ironies of revolution A love affair with liberal democracy that soured," 9 Jan. 2020 While again laudable as a personal quality, empathy tends to fall apart entirely as a precept for democratic political mobilization. Astra Taylor, The New Republic, "One for All," 26 Aug. 2019 Generations of legal scholars and jurists have wrestled with how to apply its antiquated precepts to the mores and technologies of each subsequent era. Stephen Collinson And Caitlin Hu, CNN, "What would America's Founding Fathers have said about Trump's impeachment trial?," 21 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'precept.' 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 precept

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for 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 entry 1

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Time Traveler for precept

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for precept

Last Updated

30 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Precept.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jul. 2020.

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How to pronounce precept (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of precept

formal : a rule that says how people should behave

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More from Merriam-Webster on precept

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for precept

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with precept

Spanish Central: Translation of precept

Nglish: Translation of precept for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of precept for Arabic Speakers

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