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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from prescribe

prescriber noun

Synonyms for prescribe

Synonyms

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Once confined, she was prescribed a battery of meds and assigned a social worker, who appears throughout the show as a reminder of how, these days, bureaucracy plays at the edges of even our most primal human states. Vinson Cunningham, The New Yorker, "“Medea” and “Mac Beth” Reflect Modern Tragedies," 3 Feb. 2020 The woman, Samantha Jones, told investigators that she had been prescribed methadone to manage her addiction to opioids, the affidavit says, but there was no mention of other drugs. Giulia Mcdonnell Nieto Del Rio, CNN, "Indiana mother arrested after her 2-month-old baby dies of meth intoxication, possibly through breast milk, court documents say," 21 Jan. 2020 Dose after dose of the Percocet he was prescribed for pain post-surgery eventually graduated to heroin. Coral Murphy, USA TODAY, "'Cyborg' technology aims to reduce the opioid epidemic one chip at a time," 20 Jan. 2020 Every single aspect of your holistic health is measured and considered both quantitatively and qualitatively by medical experts, and then you're prescribed a proper course of action to optimize that facet of your well-being. Jessica Chia, Allure, "Here's Why Spain's Sha Wellness Clinic Is One of the Best Spas in the World," 25 Dec. 2019 He was prescribed amoxicillin and ibuprofen and taken with his father to a holding facility at a highway checkpoint. Colleen Long, SFChronicle.com, "Review finds no misconduct in deaths of 2 migrant children," 21 Dec. 2019 She was prescribed personalised amounts of three hormones: an oestrogen patch, micronised progesterone and testosterone. The Economist, "Managing menopause Millions of women are missing out on hormone replacement therapy," 12 Dec. 2019 But the tests showed traces of morphine in all of the infants — even the two who had not been prescribed the painkiller. Christopher F. Schuetze, BostonGlobe.com, "German Nurse Accused of Poisoning Five Infants With Morphine," 30 Jan. 2020 The patient had already been prescribed other medications, including Suboxone and Xanax and had a history of opioid abuse, according to case documents. James Carr, azcentral, "Phoenix-based psychiatrist suspended, accused of using illicit drugs with a patient," 26 Jan. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about prescribe

Time Traveler for prescribe

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for prescribe

Last Updated

22 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Prescribe.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prescribe. Accessed 25 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for prescribe

prescribe

verb
How to pronounce prescribe (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on prescribe

What made you want to look up prescribe? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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