pro·​scribe | \ prō-ˈskrīb How to pronounce proscribe (audio) \
proscribed; proscribing

Definition of proscribe

transitive verb

1 : to publish the name of as condemned to death with the property of the condemned forfeited to the state
2 : to condemn or forbid as harmful or unlawful : prohibit

Other Words from proscribe

proscriber noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for proscribe



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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 proscribe in a Sentence

acts that are proscribed by law regulations proscribe the use of electronic devices on board a plane while it is landing
Recent Examples on the Web Then his opinion takes particular aim at Roe’s core holding, that fetal viability—the ability to survive outside the womb, currently at about the 23rd week of pregnancy—is the decisive boundary, only after which states can proscribe abortions. David J. Garrow, WSJ, 4 May 2022 Democrats championed the rights of business owners and employers all week, while Republicans sought ways to proscribe how employers can run their businesses during a pandemic. Washington Post, 18 Nov. 2021 Also vulnerable: artists, musicians, filmmakers, academics and other cultural workers, who now find themselves the targets of Taliban orthodoxies that typically proscribe music, the representation of the human figure and the free movement of women. Los Angeles Times, 22 Aug. 2021 The Texas Senate has passed Senate Bill 3 in a continued effort to proscribe education on racial inequality in K-12 education. Kiara Alfonseca, ABC News, 23 July 2021 New Deal agenda; its logic would proscribe almost all forms of government intervention in private transactions. Adam Davidson, The New Yorker, 11 Mar. 2021 In fact, the doughnut model doesn’t proscribe all economic growth or development. Ciara Nugent, Time, 22 Jan. 2021 Five years ago, Britons celebrated with much fanfare the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta, a document that began the long process of proscribing the powers of the monarch. Stephen Castle, New York Times, 1 Apr. 2020 The political terrain became otherworldly, with rallies, conventions, canvassing, caucuses—handshakes—proscribed or constricted. John A. Farrell, The New Republic, 16 Apr. 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'proscribe.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of proscribe

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for proscribe

Latin proscribere to publish, proscribe, from pro- before + scribere to write — more at scribe

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Time Traveler for proscribe

Time Traveler

The first known use of proscribe was in the 15th century

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Cite this Entry

“Proscribe.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for proscribe


transitive verb
pro·​scribe | \ prō-ˈskrīb How to pronounce proscribe (audio) \
proscribed; proscribing

Legal Definition of proscribe

: to condemn or forbid as harmful or unlawful

History and Etymology for proscribe

Latin proscribere to publish, proscribe, from pro- before + scribere to write

More from Merriam-Webster on proscribe

Nglish: Translation of proscribe for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of proscribe for Arabic Speakers


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