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

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

Democratically elected National Assembly President Juan Guaidó took an oath to become Venezuela’s interim president on Wednesday, as prescribed by the country’s constitution. Mary Anastasia O’grady, WSJ, "Venezuelan Spring," 27 Jan. 2019 Physicians treating pain in patients with a distant history of addiction can unwittingly put patients at risk of relapse by prescribing opioids without appropriate counseling. Melissa Stein, STAT, "Privacy laws are hurting the care of patients with addiction," 13 July 2018 Because the side effects of cancer drugs can be severe, explains Voluntis chief executive Pierre Leurent, some patients don’t take the medications as they are prescribed. Scott Kirsner, BostonGlobe.com, "Take two apps and call me in the morning," 29 June 2018 The president of the Board of Supervisors, an African American woman raised in public housing just blocks from City Hall, took his place immediately, as prescribed by the City Charter. Heather Knight, San Francisco Chronicle, "Voters tune out rather than turn out for tame San Francisco mayor’s race," 5 June 2018 Levy noted that two independent engineers have said the underground drainage solution should work, if the improvements are done as prescribed. Lynn Horsley, kansascity, "Owner of Homestead in Prairie Village aims to give aging country club a new life | The Kansas City Star," 18 May 2018 The slumbering bodies are arranged in tableau fashion, as the stage directions prescribe. Charles Mcnulty, latimes.com, "A revelatory Denzel Washington in 'The Iceman Cometh'," 10 May 2018 And clinic staff were reportedly told to stop prescribing exercises to hurt workers so that the injuries would stay off the books. Sean O'kane, The Verge, "Tesla’s on-site health clinic accused of undercounting worker injuries," 6 Nov. 2018 Fire prevention Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Service are planning to do more tree-thinning and prescribed burning to reduce the buildup of combustible vegetation. SFChronicle.com, "Wine Country fires: What has changed to reduce risk," 17 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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Last Updated

8 Mar 2019

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 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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to corrupt or become corrupted

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