pro·​scribe | \ prō-ˈskrīb \
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


ban, bar, enjoin, forbid, interdict, outlaw, prohibit


allow, let, permit, suffer

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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

Such investment was technically proscribed by China’s tough laws restricting foreign investment in the internet sector. Jesse M. Fried And Matthew Schoenfeld, WSJ, "Will China Cheat American Investors?," 13 Dec. 2018 Molenbergnatie, a different Louis Dreyfus subsidiary, also had its Barcelona activities proscribed in early October. David Hodari, WSJ, "Louis Dreyfus Suffers Another Coffee-Warehouse Suspension," 28 Nov. 2018 She and other legislators should return to the work of writing laws to proscribe specific conduct rather than to create new bureaucracies to do their dirty work. WSJ, "Sen. Warren’s Blast at Capitalism and Property," 20 Aug. 2018 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 Such bullets, which can cause wider wound channels, are proscribed in most military use. New York Times, "Wounds From Military-Style Rifles? ‘A Ghastly Thing to See’," 4 Mar. 2018 The law prohibits the sale of junk food like ice cream, chocolate and potato chips in Chilean schools and proscribes such products from being advertised during television programs or on websites aimed at young audiences. Andrew Jacobs, New York Times, "In Sweeping War on Obesity, Chile Slays Tony the Tiger," 7 Feb. 2018 Seventy-one groups, a mixture of national and international organizations including the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, appear on the list, but National Action was the first right-wing organization to be proscribed. Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY, "British neo-Nazis serving in military detained," 5 Sep. 2017

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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Last Updated

12 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for proscribe

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

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More Definitions for proscribe



English Language Learners Definition of proscribe

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


transitive verb
pro·​scribe | \ prō-ˈskrīb \
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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