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 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 This year’s election in the Zimbabwe masked what was effectively a military coup, an unconstitutional change of government proscribed by the AU but finessed with an election that was peaceful but lacked integrity. John J Stremlau, Quartz Africa, "The Trump circus was a distraction from Africa’s climate change fight at the UN summit," 2 Oct. 2019 Despite being proscribed by the United Nations and the U.S. as a terrorist group, JeM recently built a sprawling new training complex in Pakistan’s southern Punjab province, according to reports in the Indian media. Sadanand Dhume, WSJ, "Pakistan-Based Jihadists Kill 40, and Indians Demand a Response," 21 Feb. 2019 The bottom line is that for far too long, college athletes have been one of the only subsets of American society who have been proscribed from accepting compensation that someone else is more than willing to give them. Mike Finger,, "NCAA drops a fight it never should have started," 18 July 2019 In an ideal world, where homosexuality was not only never legally proscribed, but also never the target of intense and widespread social stigma, this would be true. James Kirchick, The New York Review of Books, "James Kirchick," 10 Jan. 2019 Unlike most west African countries, Senegal has never had a military coup, but in 2012 the previous president, Abdoulaye Wade, did run for a third term, which the constitution proscribes. The Economist, "Senegal’s democracy is being tested by its president," 28 June 2018 Louisiana proscribes the naming of public buildings for living persons. Drew Broach,, "Louisiana forbids naming public buildings for living persons; here's the latest exception," 25 May 2018

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 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Proscribe.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for proscribe


How to pronounce proscribe (audio)

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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