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

The drug, which is legally prescribed for pain relief, can be highly addictive. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "Couple behind “prolific” dark net fentanyl sales busted by DOJ," 22 Aug. 2018 By the 1980s, stronger benzodiazepines (e.g. Ativan and Xanax) prescribed for anxiety disorders were also made available to help overwhelmed women. Hayley Krischer, Marie Claire, "How Heroin Came for Middle-Class Moms," 20 Aug. 2018 There are plenty of rap songs about Promethazine, Percocet and Xanax — all prescription drugs with a high potential for addiction and abuse — but very few about the pill commonly prescribed to treat depression. Jennifer Swann, latimes.com, "Rapper Sirah is leading a movement to better understand mental health in the music community," 21 June 2018 The study did not consider whether people who overdosed on pain medicines were using pills specifically prescribed for them, or for someone else. Aubrey Whelan, Philly.com, "Pa. hospital admissions for heroin overdoses increase even as pain-med overdoses decline," 13 June 2018 Multiple doctors prescribed every drug cocktail imaginable. Jenny Aurthur, Longreads, "Of Breakdowns and Breakthroughs," 4 May 2018 Martinez said the board in recent years has seen a rise in cases of co-sleeping deaths involving drugs like Xanax, a benzodiazapene prescribed for anxiety that can be heavily sedating, especially when mixed with alcohol. Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje, San Antonio Express-News, "Many child neglect or abuse fatalities linked to substance abuse," 2 May 2018 Only about 5 percent of the nation’s doctors are licensed to prescribe buprenorphine. German Lopez, Vox, "The simple idea that could help end America’s opioid epidemic," 26 Dec. 2018 Congress should take a page from the financial regulatory book and create an entity with the authority to prescribe and enforce requirements. WSJ, "Facebook Wrestles With Security, Fairness," 12 Dec. 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

19 Apr 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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