prescribe

verb
pre·scribe | \ pri-ˈskrīb \
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

define, lay down, specify

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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

First, an important disclaimer: Birth control, like any medication, should be taken as directed by the prescribing information and your doctor. Korin Miller, SELF, "Is There Any Reliable Way to Make Your Period Come Faster?," 11 July 2018 Today, between 21 and 29 percent of the people prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them. Jonathon Keats, Discover Magazine, "Building a Better Painkiller," 11 May 2018 Allegations began surfacing late last week involving Jackson's workplace practices, including claims of inappropriate behavior and over-prescribing prescription drugs, according to two aides granted anonymity to discuss the situation. Bloomberg.com, "Watchdog Report Points to Power Struggle Involving Veterans Affairs Pick," 25 Apr. 2018 The drug, Daraprim, is often prescribed to babies and people with HIV/AIDS. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "It’s 7 years in prison for Martin Shkreli, convicted of fraud," 9 Mar. 2018 They are often prescribed without the knowledge of patients that the medications contain opioids. Jacqueline Serrato, Hoy, "‘How to save a life’ from the tight grip of heroin addiction," 8 Feb. 2018 Bright envisions a future in which people take the test, then use an app or a device to send the information to their doctor, who can prescribe medication that might be delivered to the home. NBC News, "Feds pay two companies to develop at-home flu tests," 11 July 2018 Much of the fraud is lined to the opioid crisis, including fraudulent insurance claims and doctors who carelessly prescribe opioids. Linda Trischitta, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Authorities charge 601 people in health care fraud, opioid crackdown," 28 June 2018 Records show that in 1997 the company budgeted $300,000 for mailings to doctors who prescribed opioids liberally, based on sales data that drug companies purchase. Fred Schulte, Washington Post, "How America Got Hooked On A Deadly Drug," 13 June 2018

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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Statistics for prescribe

Last Updated

20 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for prescribe

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

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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 \
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 \
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 \
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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