\ˈrül \

Definition of rule 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a prescribed guide for conduct or action

b : the laws or regulations prescribed by the founder of a religious order for observance by its members

c : an accepted procedure, custom, or habit

d(1) : a usually written order or direction made by a court regulating court practice or the action of parties

(2) : a legal precept or doctrine

e : a regulation or bylaw governing procedure or controlling conduct

2a(1) : a usually valid generalization

(2) : a generally prevailing quality, state, or mode fair weather was the rule yesterdayThe New York Times

b : a standard of judgment : criterion

c : a regulating principle

d : a determinate method for performing a mathematical operation and obtaining a certain result

3a : the exercise of authority or control : dominion

b : a period during which a specified ruler or government exercises control

4a : a strip of material marked off in units used especially for measuring : ruler sense 3, tape measure

b : a metal strip with a type-high face that prints a linear design also : a linear design produced by or as if by such a strip

as a rule

: for the most part : generally


ruled; ruling

Definition of rule (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to exert control, direction, or influence on the passions that rule our minds

b : to exercise control over especially by curbing or restraining rule a fractious horse ruled his appetites firmly

2a : to exercise authority or power over often harshly or arbitrarily the speaker ruled the legislature with an iron hand

b : to be preeminent in : dominate

3 : to determine and declare authoritatively especially : to command or determine judicially

4a(1) : to mark with lines drawn along or as if along the straight edge of a ruler

(2) : to mark (a line) on a paper with a ruler

b : to arrange in a line

intransitive verb

1a : to exercise supreme authority

b : to be first in importance or prominence : predominate the physical did not rule in her nature— Sherwood Anderson

2 : to exist in a specified state or condition

3 : to lay down a legal rule

4 slang : to be extremely cool or popular used as a generalized term of praise or approval for a little attitude at the right price, sneakers rule— Tish Hamilton

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Synonyms & Antonyms for rule

Synonyms: Noun

bylaw, ground rule, reg, regulation

Synonyms: Verb

bridle, check, constrain, contain, control, curb, govern, hold, inhibit, keep, measure, pull in, regulate, rein (in), restrain, tame

Antonyms: Verb


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Choose the Right Synonym for rule


law, rule, regulation, precept, statute, ordinance, canon mean a principle governing action or procedure. law implies imposition by a sovereign authority and the obligation of obedience on the part of all subject to that authority. obey the law rule applies to more restricted or specific situations. the rules of the game regulation implies prescription by authority in order to control an organization or system. regulations affecting nuclear power plants precept commonly suggests something advisory and not obligatory communicated typically through teaching. the precepts of effective writing statute implies a law enacted by a legislative body. a statute requiring the use of seat belts ordinance applies to an order governing some detail of procedure or conduct enforced by a limited authority such as a municipality. a city ordinance canon suggests in nonreligious use a principle or rule of behavior or procedure commonly accepted as a valid guide. the canons of good taste


decide, determine, settle, rule, resolve mean to come or cause to come to a conclusion. decide implies previous consideration of a matter causing doubt, wavering, debate, or controversy. she decided to sell her house determine implies fixing the identity, character, scope, or direction of something. determined the cause of the problem settle implies a decision reached by someone with power to end all dispute or uncertainty. the dean's decision settled the campus alcohol policy rule implies a determination by judicial or administrative authority. the judge ruled that the evidence was inadmissible resolve implies an expressed or clear decision or determination to do or refrain from doing something. he resolved to quit smoking

Examples of rule in a Sentence


I understand the basic rules of chess. As long as you're living under our roof, you'll follow our rules. The college has strict rules for qualifying for financial assistance. The new rule allows employees to dress casually on Fridays. Under the new rules, casual dress is now allowed. the company's rules and regulations It's important to learn the rules of the road before taking your driving test. It's against the rules to eat during class. He violated the unwritten rule that you must thank your host before you leave a party. If you break the rules, you'll be asked to leave.


The queen ruled for 25 years. A dynasty ruled over this region during the 11th century. Who will be the next leader to rule the country? All of his actions were ruled by his religion. The court ruled in favor of the defendant. The jury ruled against the tobacco companies. How will the court rule on the motion? The Supreme Court ruled the law unconstitutional. The board ruled that her behavior was cheating.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Facebook and Instagram removed the video for violating their rules; Twitter left it up, and it has been viewed more than 95,000 times. Casey Newton, The Verge, "The fake video era of US politics has arrived on Twitter," 9 Nov. 2018 Some of the states where voters are enthusiastically casting ballots early recently changed their rules to make early voting easier. Stavros Agorakis, Vox, "The surge in early voting, explained," 3 Nov. 2018 Prosecutors said Robert chafed under his parents’ rules and curfews, and Jeffrey described being yelled at repeatedly by his mother and hit by his father over bad grades. Holly Ramer, The Seattle Times, "Man resentenced to 40 years in parents’ 1996 murder," 30 Oct. 2018 And will Sabrina really do the Dark Lord’s bidding after a full season of questioning her devotion to the Church of Night and its stifling rules? Jessica Macleish, Teen Vogue, ""Chilling Adventures of Sabrina" Season 2: Questions We Need to Be Answered After That Finale," 26 Oct. 2018 To enter and for full rules, go to Starts 10:00 AM ET 3/1/17 and ends 11:00 PM ET 5/24/17. Condé Naste Traveler: Post, "Discover Dallas Sweepstakes," 26 Oct. 2018 The Queen reportedly waived her rule regarding only spouses attending the festive celebrations, allowing Meghan to attend as Harry's fiancée. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "How Meghan Markle's Life Has Changed in the Past Year," 25 Sep. 2018 This is also a great time to brush up on your basic food safety rules, which include making sure your ground beef is cooked up to 160 degrees Fahrenheit in order to kill bacteria. Sarah Jacoby, SELF, "More Than 12 Tons of Raw Ground Beef Recalled for Possible E. Coli Contamination," 27 Aug. 2018 Blandino currently serves as a FOX Sports NFL and college football rules analyst, but formerly oversaw officiating in the NFL from 2013 to 2017, as the league's senior vice president of officiating. The Heat Index, azcentral, "EX-NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino roasted on Twitter over airport worker Tweet," 13 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Liviu Dragnea, the chairman of the ruling Social Democratic Party, basically runs the government but can’t be prime minister because of a conviction for vote-rigging. Alison Mutler, The Seattle Times, "Premier: Romania ready for EU presidency amid EU criticism," 13 Nov. 2018 Elaborate beauty transformations ranging from the ghoulish to the glamorous ruled feeds. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "The Best Celebrity Halloween Makeup on Instagram," 1 Nov. 2018 The Ascendant also reveals the chart’s ruling planet. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "The 12 Astrological Houses: Interpreting Your Birth Chart Beyond the Zodiac," 6 Oct. 2018 In addition to hosting Cricket World Cups, the stadium is also where Aussie rules football games, or footie, are played. Krista Simmons, Condé Nast Traveler, "13 Best Things to Do in Melbourne," 26 Sep. 2018 One Reddit user named FOOSLS claims to have seen an early storyboard where the events of the film take place five years after The Last Jedi and Kylo Ren rules the galaxy, with Rey, Leia, and Poe trying to stop The First Order. Adam Schubak, Popular Mechanics, "Everything We Know So Far About Star Wars Episode IX," 17 Sep. 2018 The government has since ruled 46 of those children, including the possibly-American child, are currently ineligible for reunification. Graham Kates, CBS News, "Child who may be American, separated from mom at border, has been in federal custody since 2015," 13 July 2018 Immigrant advocates, however, say the new asylum rules arbitrarily remove domestic violence and gang violence from consideration during the asylum process, even though courts have determined that both can be reasons for receiving asylum. Pamela Ren Larson, azcentral, "Trump administration issues new asylum rules aimed at families arriving at border," 13 July 2018 The previous highest damages ruling was for $417 million, in August last year. David Meyer, Fortune, "Does J&J's Baby Powder Cause Cancer? A Jury Just Said Yes With an Enormous $4.69 Billion Penalty," 13 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rule.' 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 rule


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for rule


Middle English reule, from Anglo-French, from Latin regula straightedge, rule, from regere to keep straight, direct — more at right

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Statistics for rule

Last Updated

17 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for rule

The first known use of rule was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for rule



English Language Learners Definition of rule

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a statement that tells you what is or is not allowed in a particular game, situation, etc.

: a statement that tells you what is allowed or what will happen within a particular system (such as a language or science)

: a piece of advice about the best way to do something



English Language Learners Definition of rule (Entry 2 of 2)

: to have control and power over a country, area, group, etc.

: to have great influence over (someone)

: to make a legal decision about something


\ˈrül \

Kids Definition of rule

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a guide or principle for conduct or action To play this game, you need to follow the rules.

2 : an accepted or usual method, custom, or habit “I'm a pretty quiet creature as a rule,” said the horse …— Hugh Lofting, Dr. Dolittle

3 : the exercise of authority or control : government The country was under British rule.


ruled; ruling

Kids Definition of rule (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to exercise authority over : govern

2 : control entry 1 sense 1, direct Don't let emotions rule your decision.

3 : to be supreme or outstanding in He rules the tennis courts.

4 : to give or state as a considered decision The judge ruled that the evidence could not be used.

5 : to mark with lines drawn along the straight edge of a ruler



Legal Definition of rule 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a prescribed guide for conduct or action

b : a regulating principle or precept

2a : an order or directive issued by a court in a particular proceeding especially upon petition of a party to the proceeding that commands an officer or party to perform an act or show cause why an act should not be performed a rule directing the district court to show cause why its ruling should not be vacatedPeople v. District Court, 797 P.2d 1259 (1990)

b : a usually judicially promulgated regulation having the force of law that governs judicial practice or procedure rules of evidence rules of appellate procedure — see also rule of court

c : rule of law sense 1

3 : all or part of a statement (as a regulation) by an administrative agency that has general or particular applicability and future effect and that is designed to implement, interpret, or prescribe law or policy or that describes the organization, procedure, or practice of the agency itself a rule subject to statutory notice and comment requirements for informal rulemaking

4a : a regulation or bylaw governing procedure or conduct in a body, organization, institution, or proceeding

b : a resolution of a legislative rules committee setting forth the terms for consideration of a particular bill by the entire body

5 : the exercise of authority or control majority rule — see also home rule, rule of law sense 2


ruled; ruling

Legal Definition of rule (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to exercise authority or power over

2 : to determine and declare authoritatively especially : to command or determine judicially ruled the evidence inadmissible

intransitive verb

1 : to exercise supreme authority

2 : to lay down a rule or ruling ruled in favor of the plaintiff

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Comments on rule

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


by force of circumstances

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