pre·​scrip·​tive | \ pri-ˈskrip-tiv How to pronounce prescriptive (audio) \

Definition of prescriptive

1 : serving to prescribe prescriptive rules of usage
2 : acquired by, founded on, or determined by prescription or by long-standing custom

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Other Words from prescriptive

prescriptively adverb

Examples of prescriptive in a Sentence

Critics claim the new rules are too prescriptive. even in this age of e-mail the prescriptive response to a wedding gift is a handwritten thank-you note

Recent Examples on the Web

The guidance was so prescriptive that most states didn’t bother coming up with ideas. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Trump’s Health-Care Progress," 4 Nov. 2018 Most are content to offer a descriptive account of how morality works, remaining silent on whether morality can be prescriptive. Julian Baggini, WSJ, "‘Science and the Good’ Review: The Anatomy of Morality," 15 Jan. 2019 But this was a different view of Paris, backward-looking, in some ways, to the 1980s, yes, but with less prescriptive results. Nicole Phelps, Vogue, "The Top 12 Shows of Paris Fashion Week Fall 2019," 6 Mar. 2019 Rather than agencies deciding what laws mean in contested cases, Mr. Wallison insists, courts must decide, and in ways that compel Congress to pass statutes that are less vague and more prescriptive. Yuval Levin, WSJ, "‘Judicial Fortitude’ Review: Time for Congress to Do Its Job," 2 Jan. 2019 Moreover, federal regulation doesn’t need to mirror the Europeans’. Other jurisdictions like Switzerland and Bermuda have lifted the best parts of the European approach and dropped the most prescriptive elements. WSJ, "Protecting U.S. State-Regulated Insurance," 10 Dec. 2018 But Teigen, to her credit, is never one to bite her tongue when someone criticizes her appearance, especially over such dated prescriptive ideals. Zoe Weiner, Glamour, "Chrissy Teigen Shut Down Someone Who Said Her Hair Makes Her Face 'Look Huge'," 25 Sep. 2018 His philosophical views of literature often seem to serve a narrow, somewhat prescriptive orthodoxy, but no matter. Vivian Gornick, New York Times, "James Wood’s New Novel Confronts the Mystery of Other Minds," 14 June 2018 Colleges have complained that the credit-hour rule is too prescriptive. New York Times, "With Legislation Stalled, DeVos Moves to Wield Deregulatory Power," 31 May 2018

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

1663, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for prescriptive

Last Updated

7 May 2019

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Time Traveler for prescriptive

The first known use of prescriptive was in 1663

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More Definitions for prescriptive



English Language Learners Definition of prescriptive

: giving exact rules, directions, or instructions about how you should do something
technical : providing rules and opinions that tell people how language should be used


pre·​scrip·​tive | \ pri-ˈskrip-tiv How to pronounce prescriptive (audio) \

Legal Definition of prescriptive

1 : serving to prescribe prescriptive rules
2 : acquired by, founded on, or constituting prescription a prescriptive right a longer prescriptive period

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More from Merriam-Webster on prescriptive

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with prescriptive

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for prescriptive

Britannica English: Translation of prescriptive for Arabic Speakers

Comments on prescriptive

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showing courage and determination

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