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

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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 In fact, the doughnut model doesn’t proscribe all economic growth or development. Ciara Nugent, Time, "Amsterdam Is Embracing a Radical New Economic Theory to Help Save the Environment. Could It Also Replace Capitalism?," 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, "To Enforce Coronavirus Rules, U.K. Police Use Drones, Shaming and Easter Egg Bans," 1 Apr. 2020 The political terrain became otherworldly, with rallies, conventions, canvassing, caucuses—handshakes—proscribed or constricted. John A. Farrell, The New Republic, "TNR Newsletters. Must reads. 5 days a week.," 16 Apr. 2020 Alcohol is now proscribed for about 16 million people, as several others among the nation’s 77 provinces have already imposed curbs., "Warnings multiply against Easter holiday travel, gatherings," 9 Apr. 2020 This is a man specifically proscribed as a terrorist for his associations with al Qaeda. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, "The US 'understanding' with the Taliban -- stop fighting for long enough and we'll leave," 21 Feb. 2020 Of course there are the ritual greetings and glances and such, but these should be minimal and strictly proscribed. Christian Wiman, New York Times, "Letter of Recommendation: Gyms," 18 Mar. 2020 That will go for restoration, reforestation, fuel reduction, proscribed fire, biomass utilization, and new research. David Helvarg, National Geographic, "How will California prevent more mega-wildfire disasters?," 20 Dec. 2019 The rule led to a stoppage of all fracking activity months before the government officially proscribed it. David Wethe | Bloomberg, Washington Post, "What Human-Made Earthquakes Mean for Fracking: QuickTake," 18 Nov. 2019

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.

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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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Last Updated

28 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

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

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More Definitions for proscribe



English Language Learners Definition of proscribe

formal : to make (something) illegal : to not allow (something)


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

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Comments on proscribe

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