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 However, being too prescriptive not only limits their ability to improvise and be flexible when needed, but can also make their conversations with clients and customers come across as canned and generic. Expert Panel®, Forbes, "13 Ways To Guide Team Members On Using A Brand’s Preferred Language," 25 Feb. 2021 But the impulse to speak out is tempered by a wariness about becoming too prescriptive. David Gelles, New York Times, "‘We Need to Stabilize’: Big Business Breaks With Republicans," 15 Jan. 2021 The days of buying into prescriptive beauty rules, for me, are over. Talia Gutierrez, Glamour, "9 Beauty ‘Rules’ I’m Breaking In 2021," 5 Jan. 2021 Any antitrust reform that might come out of Congress, however, is certain to be much more detailed and prescriptive than those earlier laws. Washington Post, "Facebook and Google cases are our last chance to save the economy from monopolization," 18 Dec. 2020 Like many academics, Chenoweth is wary of being prescriptive. Andrew Marantz, The New Yorker, "How to Stop a Power Grab," 16 Nov. 2020 Across the English Channel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was even more prescriptive in her kudos note. Katherine Dunn, Fortune, "These are the foreign leaders who’ve congratulated President-elect Joe Biden—before Donald Trump has," 7 Nov. 2020 On that afternoon last month, Mahoney, 42, on his tablet computer, consulted prescriptive analytical software called EdjVarsity, a new tool in his arsenal. Ben Shpigel, New York Times, "Friday Night Bytes: Can Analytics Revolutionize High School Football?," 5 Nov. 2020 What was really important to me was not to be prescriptive at any point in the text. Cody Delistraty, WSJ, "Writers Rumaan Alam and Bryan Washington on Capturing Reality in Their Fiction," 20 Oct. 2020

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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Time Traveler for prescriptive

Time Traveler

The first known use of prescriptive was in 1663

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Statistics for prescriptive

Last Updated

2 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Prescriptive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on prescriptive

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for prescriptive

Britannica English: Translation of prescriptive for Arabic Speakers

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