pre·scrip·tion | \ pri-ˈskrip-shən \

Definition of prescription 

1a : the establishment of a claim of title to something under common law usually by use and enjoyment for a period fixed by statute

b : the right or title acquired under common law by such possession

2 : the process of making claim to something by long use and enjoyment

3 : the action of laying down authoritative rules or directions

4a : a written direction for a therapeutic or corrective agent specifically : one for the preparation and use of a medicine

b : a prescribed medicine

c : something (such as a recommendation) resembling a doctor's prescription prescriptions for economic recovery

5a : ancient or long continued custom

b : a claim founded upon ancient custom or long continued use

6 : something prescribed as a rule

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Examples of prescription in a Sentence

The drug is only sold with a prescription. I have to pick up my prescription.

Recent Examples on the Web

First-time prescriptions are more likely to meet CDC guidelines. Lucas Laursen, Fortune, "U.S. Insurers Say the Opioid Crisis Might Be Declining," 12 July 2018 The doctor would routinely leave prescriptions in envelopes at the liquor store neighboring his practice. Ruth Bruno,, "Norwalk Doctor Pleads Guilty To Prescribing Unnecessary Drugs," 25 June 2018 These fees are assessed months after the prescription is dispensed, pilfering the profit from the pharmacy and diverting it to the pharmacy benefit manager. Scott Knoer, STAT, "What does PBM stand for? In Ohio (and elsewhere), it’s programs bilking millions," 29 June 2018 The prescription carries a boxed warning, the FDA’s strictest., "Whole Foods to deliver free in two hours to Amazon Prime customers," 12 June 2018 The precise policy prescriptions of the withdrawal were still in flux as recently as late last week, the officials said. Kevin Liptak, CNN, "Unbridled Trump storms global stage," 9 May 2018 The anxiety over having the prescription denied began to take a toll on Ingersoll, who started looking for alternatives. Brie Zeltner,, "Off opioids, chronic pain sufferers find new ways to cope," 22 Apr. 2018 The prescription is free, but the evaluation has a fee. Naseem S. Miller,, "Orange County health department begins offering free HIV prevention drug," 18 Apr. 2018 The doctor didn’t even take money for the prescriptions, making his behavior harder still to explain. Joshua Sharpe, ajc, "Renowned Atlanta doctor who traded pills for sex pleads guilty in Cobb," 13 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'prescription.' 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 prescription

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for prescription

partly from Middle English prescripcion establishment of a claim, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin praescription-, praescriptio, from Latin, act of writing at the beginning, order, limitation of subject matter, from praescribere; partly from Latin praescription-, praescriptio order

partly from Middle French prescription establishment of a claim, from Late Latin praescription- praescriptio, from Latin, act of writing at the beginning, order, from praescribere to write at the beginning, dictate, order; partly from Latin praescription- praescriptio order

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Phrases Related to prescription

by prescription

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Last Updated

22 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for prescription

The first known use of prescription was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for prescription



English Language Learners Definition of prescription

: a written message from a doctor that officially tells someone to use a medicine, therapy, etc.

: a medicine or drug that a doctor officially tells someone to use

: something that is suggested as a way to do something or to make something happen


pre·scrip·tion | \ pri-ˈskrip-shən \

Kids Definition of prescription

1 : a written direction or order for the preparing and use of a medicine

2 : a medicine that is ordered by a doctor as a remedy


pre·scrip·tion | \ pri-ˈskrip-shən \

Medical Definition of prescription 

1 : a written direction for the preparation, compounding, and administration of a medicine

2 : a prescribed remedy

3 : a written formula for the grinding of corrective lenses for eyeglasses

4 : a written direction for the application of physical therapy measures (as directed exercise or electrotherapy) in cases of injury or disability

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pre·scrip·tion | \ pri-ˈskrip-shən \

Legal Definition of prescription 

1 : acquisition of an interest (as an easement) in real property that is usually less than a fee by long-term, continuous, open, and hostile use and possession as determined by the law of a jurisdiction gained title by prescription — see also easement by prescription at easement — compare adverse possession at possession

2 in the civil law of Louisiana

a : the running of a period of time set by law after which a right is unenforceable in Louisiana courts but may be enforced in another state forum an interruption of prescription by the prescription of ten years also : the bar to an action that results from prescription — see also peremptory exception — compare peremption

b : the creation of a right by the running of a period of time set by law especially : acquisitive prescription in this entry predial servitudes on property of the state may not be acquired by prescription Louisiana Civil Code

acquisitive prescription \ə-ˈkwi-zə-tiv- \

: acquisition of ownership or other real rights in movables or immovables by continuous, uninterrupted, peaceable, public, and unequivocal possession for a period of time (as 10 years) set by law also : such possession that creates real rights acquisitive prescription is interrupted when the possessor acknowledges the right of the owner Louisiana Civil Code

Note: The Louisiana Civil Code has set various periods of time for acquisitive prescription of movables and immovables. With the shorter periods (as 10 years for immovables or 3 years for movables) the Code also requires that the possessor possess in good faith and under just title. Acquisitive prescription does not run in favor of a person having precarious possession, because he or she possess the property on behalf of or with permission of the owner, until the possessor begins to possess the property on his or her own behalf (as after a lease terminates).

liberative prescription

: a period of time set by law (as one year) after which legal action is barred if no steps have been taken to enforce or litigate the right delictual actions are subject to a liberative prescription of one yearLouisiana Civil Code

Note: Liberative prescription is similar to the common-law statute of limitations.

prescription of nonuse

: the extinguishment or termination of a real right other than ownership as a result of the failure to exercise the right for a period of time (as 10 years) set by law also : the period of time

3 : something prescribed as a rule created a legal prescription against such acts

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