rule 1 of 2


2 of 2


Synonym Chooser

How is the word rule distinct from other similar nouns?

Some common synonyms of rule are canon, law, ordinance, precept, regulation, and statute. While all these words mean "a principle governing action or procedure," rule applies to more restricted or specific situations.

the rules of the game

When might canon be a better fit than rule?

In some situations, the words canon and rule are roughly equivalent. However, canon suggests in nonreligious use a principle or rule of behavior or procedure commonly accepted as a valid guide.

the canons of good taste

When is law a more appropriate choice than rule?

While the synonyms law and rule are close in meaning, law implies imposition by a sovereign authority and the obligation of obedience on the part of all subject to that authority.

obey the law

When is it sensible to use ordinance instead of rule?

While in some cases nearly identical to rule, ordinance applies to an order governing some detail of procedure or conduct enforced by a limited authority such as a municipality.

a city ordinance

Where would precept be a reasonable alternative to rule?

The meanings of precept and rule largely overlap; however, precept commonly suggests something advisory and not obligatory communicated typically through teaching.

the precepts of effective writing

In what contexts can regulation take the place of rule?

The words regulation and rule are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, regulation implies prescription by authority in order to control an organization or system.

regulations affecting nuclear power plants

When would statute be a good substitute for rule?

The words statute and rule can be used in similar contexts, but statute implies a law enacted by a legislative body.

a statute requiring the use of seat belts

Thesaurus Entries Near rule

Cite this Entry

“Rule.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on rule

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!