prescribe

verb
pre·​scribe | \ pri-ˈskrīb How to pronounce prescribe (audio) \
prescribed; prescribing

Definition of prescribe

intransitive verb

1 : to lay down a rule : dictate
2 [Middle English, from Medieval Latin praescribere, from Latin, to write at the beginning] : to claim a title to something by right of prescription
3 : to write or give medical prescriptions
4 : to become by prescription invalid or unenforceable

transitive verb

1a : to lay down as a guide, direction, or rule of action : ordain
b : to specify with authority
2 : to designate or order the use of as a remedy prescribed a painkiller a prescribed burn to restore natural forest conditions

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Other Words from prescribe

prescriber noun

Synonyms for prescribe

Synonyms

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Proscribe vs. Prescribe

Proscribe and prescribe each have a Latin-derived prefix that means "before" attached to the verb "scribe" (from scribere, meaning "to write"). Yet the two words have very distinct, often nearly opposite meanings. Why? In a way, you could say it's the law. In the 15th and 16th centuries both words had legal implications. To proscribe was to publish the name of a person who had been condemned, outlawed, or banished. To prescribe meant "to lay down a rule," including legal rules or orders.

Examples of prescribe in a Sentence

This drug should not be prescribed to children. a drug commonly prescribed to treat rashes The doctor prescribed three months of physical therapy for my leg injury. The law prescribes a prison sentence of at least five years for the crime. The regulations prescribe that all employees must pass a physical examination. We must follow the rules as prescribed by the government.
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Recent Examples on the Web Physicians who receive payment from industry are more likely to prescribe their sponsors’ drugs and request that specific drugs be added to a hospital formulary than physicians who are not paid by industry. Sunita Sah, Scientific American, "Conflicts of Interest and COVID," 3 Dec. 2020 The rules prescribe stronger consequences for what’s described in Midland, though, including potential disbarment. Jessica Priest, USA Today, "Moonlighting prosecutor sent Texas man to death row; 17 years later, he could get a new trial," 4 Feb. 2021 Doctors can prescribe aspirin and other drugs for the heart inflammation seen in some Covid patients, for example, or anticoagulants to help with blood clotting. New York Times, "What If You Never Get Better From Covid-19?," 21 Jan. 2021 Treatment: The veterinarian will prescribe the best course of treatment once the feline acne diagnosis is made. Traci Howerton, NOLA.com, "Cat acne -- yes, it's a thing, and it may require treatment by a vet," 12 Jan. 2021 For example, dermatologists can prescribe acne medications and gynecologists can consult about birth control. Sheila Eldred, SELF, "How Safe Is the Doctor’s Office During the Pandemic?," 8 Dec. 2020 And in severe cases, your doctors can prescribe medication to help alleviate symptoms. Brittany Risher, Woman's Day, "5 Health Issues To Look Out For If You Suffer From Rheumatoid Arthritis," 13 Nov. 2020 While such a polypill is not approved for use in the U.S., doctors can certainly prescribe all separately. NBC News, "Single 'polypill' found to cut heart attacks, stroke," 13 Nov. 2020 Beyond the law intended to end diving, there are other regulations and norms — including international conventions — that prescribe workplace safety requirements that are intended to safeguard fishermen. New York Times, "For Nicaragua’s Lobstermen, Deadly Dives Are All Too Common," 24 Jan. 2021

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for prescribe

Middle English, from Latin praescribere to write at the beginning, dictate, order, from prae- + scribere to write — more at scribe

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Time Traveler for prescribe

Time Traveler

The first known use of prescribe was in the 15th century

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Statistics for prescribe

Last Updated

26 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Prescribe.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prescribe. Accessed 7 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for prescribe

prescribe

verb

English Language Learners Definition of prescribe

: to officially tell someone to use (a medicine, therapy, diet, etc.) as a remedy or treatment
: to make (something) an official rule

prescribe

verb
pre·​scribe | \ pri-ˈskrīb How to pronounce prescribe (audio) \
prescribed; prescribing

Kids Definition of prescribe

1 : to order or direct the use of as a remedy Did the doctor prescribe medicine?
2 : to lay down as a rule of action : order School rules prescribe daily physical activity.

prescribe

verb
pre·​scribe | \ pri-ˈskrīb How to pronounce prescribe (audio) \
prescribed; prescribing

Medical Definition of prescribe

intransitive verb

: to write or give medical prescriptions

transitive verb

: to designate or order the use of as a remedy prescribe a drug

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prescribe

verb
pre·​scribe | \ pri-ˈskrīb How to pronounce prescribe (audio) \
prescribed; prescribing

Legal Definition of prescribe

intransitive verb

1 : to claim title or a right to something (as an easement) by prescription a precarious possessor cannot prescribe against the owner
2 in the civil law of Louisiana : to become unenforceable or invalid by prescription any party having an interest in a money judgment may have it revived before it prescribesLouisiana Civil Code

transitive verb

1 : to lay down as a rule or guide : specify with authority the times, places and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the legislature thereofU.S. Constitution art. I
2 in the civil law of Louisiana : to invalidate or bar the enforcement of by prescription this claim for damages shall not be prescribed so long as the minor's right of action exists against his tutorLouisiana Civil Code

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Comments on prescribe

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