pre·scrip·tive | \pri-ˈskrip-tiv \

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

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 Mommers said women should see this as a reason to ignore any overly prescriptive exercise plans that prohibit things like back bends and crunches, and do what feels right for their bodies. Elissa Strauss, CNN, "The enduring mystery of the postpartum pooch," 4 May 2018 France is famously prescriptive about its culture, in ways that can be baffling to Americans. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "Netflix vs. Cannes: why they’re fighting, what it means for cinema, and who really loses," 13 Apr. 2018 Make no mistake: There is nothing prescriptive or self-help-y about this book, but that’s part of what makes it great, especially when your own career is feeling aimless and messy. Charlotte Cowles, The Cut, "8 Books to Read When You’re Stuck in a Rut at Work," 12 Apr. 2018 But even within that, that non prescriptive social media usage, fans will watch. Recode Staff, Recode, "Full transcript: SB Nation Editor in Chief Elena Bergeron on Too Embarrassed to Ask," 20 Mar. 2018 But many now feel that those regulations were too prescriptive and were not flexible enough to adapt to a technology that is maturing rapidly. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "California now allows driverless cars without a human behind the wheel," 27 Feb. 2018 To be descriptive is also to be prescriptive, in a way. Jem Aswad,, "David Byrne announces first solo album since 2004, drops new song," 8 Jan. 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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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

: providing rules and opinions that tell people how language should be used


pre·scrip·tive | \pri-ˈskrip-tiv \

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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Comments on prescriptive

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not any or not one

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