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


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

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 Aside from the aforementioned provision in Washington D.C., there are no other punishments proscribed in the US Code. Eliott C. Mclaughlin, CNN, "If you love the American flag, make sure you're treating her right," 4 July 2019 Colonial laws proscribed the death penalty for these acts. Michael Bronski, Time, "The Radical Woman Whose 19th Century Ideas Still Undergird the LGBTQ-Rights Movement," 25 June 2019 The new Regulation Best Interest proscribes some of the most offensive sales tactics of an industry replete with them. Barry Ritholtz,, "SEC’s new ‘best interest’ rule is just a guideline, and not best for investors," 24 June 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 For Risso, the curious twists of the mind are our bulwark against anything proscribed or preordained; our brains and our passions will, in his view, set us free. Nicole Phelps, Vogue, "The Top Shows of Milan Fashion Week Fall 2019," 25 Feb. 2019 There were executioners to quiet those whom the Emperor proscribed. WSJ, "In Hoc Anno Domini," 23 Dec. 2018 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

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

27 Jul 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

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

What made you want to look up proscribe? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a usually brief trip or an expedition

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