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

When the flu is caught early, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral to help shorten your illness and lower your odds of serious complications. Korin Miller, SELF, "What You Need to Know About Xofluza, the New Flu Medicine," 26 Oct. 2018 Doctors usually prescribe synthetic levothyroxine (T4). Teresa Graedon, The Seattle Times, "CBD oil keeps long-distance runner going," 25 Oct. 2018 During the assessment, which includes time on Tarmey's bed, the facialist prescribes a combination of rejuvenating products and red-carpet-ready treatments that have made her the go-to among the likes of Kate Moss and Sienna Miller. Zoe Ruffner, Vogue, "This New Diet Is Based on Your Skin Type—and Will Have You Glowing in Under a Week," 23 Oct. 2018 Enter Night Sight which uses machine-learning to choose just the right pixel information, and push up brightness, detail and color in whatever final photo Google’s algorithms have prescribed for the shot at hand. Jon Phillips, PCWorld, "Google Pixel 3: The 5 features that matter most," 9 Oct. 2018 Your doctor will prescribe you with an antibiotic called metronidazole. Yerin Kim, Seventeen, "What Are the Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis and How Do I Know if I Have It?," 18 Sep. 2018 If that's the case, your dentist can prescribe an artificial saliva mouthwash to help fix the problem. Samantha Lefave, Redbook, "Why You Should Never Ignore Sweet-Smelling Urine (or These Other Body Odors)," 3 Aug. 2018 But that estimate didn’t account for prescriptions doled out at urgent care and retail clinics, which are growing in popularity and now prescribe about 40 percent of all antibiotics used outside of hospitals. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Doctors fear urgent care centers are wildly overusing antibiotics—for profit," 17 July 2018 In West Virginia, the VA in Huntington has prescribed take-home opiates at a rate about 230 percent higher than the national average. Patrik Jonsson, The Christian Science Monitor, "As war vets enter the fray, stigma lessens around cannabis," 5 July 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

15 Nov 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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