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

Now about 95 percent of dentists and oral surgeons prescribe hydrocodone or oxycodone for patients undergoing painful procedures, such as wisdom tooth extraction. Claudia Wallis, Scientific American, "Why We Won’t Miss Opioids," 1 June 2018 The Salmon-Challis National Forest is beginning a program to treat the forest with thinning, logging and prescribed burning, beginning in the Cape Horn area west of the Sawtooth peaks. Rocky Barker, idahostatesman, "Get used to the smoke. We're on track for more wildfires - and they'll reshape Idaho. | Idaho Statesman," 27 May 2018 Beyond The Money Crunch Price is one of many barriers — alongside patients’ lack of awareness and doctors’ hesitation to prescribe — that threaten to exacerbate the already stark disparities in PrEP use and HIV infection rates. Washington Post, "Out-Of-Pocket Costs Put HIV Prevention Drug Out Of Reach For Many At Risk," 11 July 2018 Mencia surrendered his Florida medical license and his DEA license to prescribe drugs after his arrest. Susannah Bryan, Sun-Sentinel.com, "'Pill mill' doc who prescribed 1.2 million doses of opioids found guilty," 1 July 2018 In reality, what is the effect of a pharmacist declining to prescribe emergency contraception? Angela Chen, The Verge, "A law professor explains why Walgreens can deny birth control prescriptions — and how policies might change," 26 June 2018 People of size are less likely to be prescribed certain routine medications (including antibiotics) and more likely to delay or avoid doctor’s appointments, potentially allowing diseases to progress undiagnosed or for warning signs to be missed. Sarah Jacoby, SELF, "The Science on Weight and Health," 26 June 2018 The proposed law outlines no qualifying conditions, which would allow physicians to prescribe its use for a broad range of ailments — a fact that has sparked bitter opposition from law enforcement, business, faith and political leaders. Sean Murphy, The Seattle Times, "Oklahoma voters weigh 1st marijuana ballot question of 2018," 25 June 2018 The migraines led to bouts of opioid dependence after she was prescribed powerful painkillers as a treatment. CBS News, "Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall recalls final call with wife before her suicide," 29 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

1 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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obstinately defiant of authority

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