ru·​bric ˈrü-brik How to pronounce rubric (audio)
: an authoritative rule
especially : a rule for conduct of a liturgical service
: name, title
specifically : the title of a statute
: something under which a thing is classed : category
the sensations falling under the general rubric, "pressure"F. A. Geldard
: an explanatory or introductory commentary : gloss
specifically : an editorial interpolation
: a heading of a part of a book or manuscript done or underlined in a color (such as red) different from the rest
: an established rule, tradition, or custom
: a guide listing specific criteria for grading or scoring academic papers, projects, or tests
rubric adjective
or rubrical
rubrically adverb

Did you know?

Centuries ago, whenever manuscript writers inserted special instructions or explanations into a book, they put them in red ink to set them off from the black used in the main text. (They used the same practice to highlight saints' names and holy days in calendars, a practice which gave us the term red-letter day.) Ultimately, such special headings or comments came to be called rubrics, a term that traces back to ruber, the Latin word for "red." While the printing sense remains in use today, rubric also has an extended sense referring to any class or category under which something is organized.

Examples of rubric in a Sentence

the rubrics at the beginning of the chapters are intended to be humorous the rubric, popular among jewelers anyway, that a man should spend a month's salary on his fiancée's engagement ring
Recent Examples on the Web The draft guidance is written in accessible language and includes practical tools and rubrics. Gisele Waters, IEEE Spectrum, 26 Mar. 2024 The Israeli agency charged with handling inspections is working off a 2008 rubric that is out of date and unevenly applied, according to a U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive topic. Claire Parker, Washington Post, 3 Mar. 2024 Circumstantial’s rubric is that Joe Biden must be good because Donald Trump is bad. Charles C. W. Cooke, National Review, 8 Mar. 2024 If there’s some sort of public acknowledgement of the change in direction and expectation around this season, then the rubric against which this team is graded will change. Zach Osterman, The Indianapolis Star, 20 Jan. 2024 This education should include discussions about the ways that our bias can creep in when evaluating job candidates and should also provide direction on tools like anonymous resumes and hiring rubrics that can used for greater equity. Janice Gassam Asare, Forbes, 27 Nov. 2023 The rubric of magic covers all too much of the movie, rendering anything possible and nothing meaningful. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 11 Dec. 2023 Each ski week follows a similar rubric but infuses its own flavor. Matt Kirouac, Travel + Leisure, 2 Jan. 2024 Uber created a rubric to help the company determine next steps. Ruth Umoh, Fortune, 11 Oct. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'rubric.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English rubrike red ocher, heading in red letters of part of a book, from Anglo-French, from Latin rubrica, from rubr-, ruber red

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of rubric was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near rubric

Cite this Entry

“Rubric.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


ru·​bric ˈrü-brik How to pronounce rubric (audio)
: a name or heading under which something is classified : classification
different problems under the general rubric of ecology
: an explanation or set of instructions at the beginning of a text (as a book)
: a guide listing criteria for grading or scoring tests, projects, or papers

Legal Definition


ru·​bric ˈrü-brik How to pronounce rubric (audio)
: an established rule, tradition, or custom

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