prescribe

verb
pre·​scribe | \ pri-ˈskrīb How to pronounce prescribe (audio) \
prescribed; prescribing

Essential Meaning of prescribe

1 : to officially tell someone to use (a medicine, therapy, diet, etc.) as a remedy or treatment My doctor prescribed this medicine. = This medicine was prescribed by my doctor. This drug should not be prescribed to children. See More Examplesa drug commonly prescribed to treat rashes The doctor prescribed three months of physical therapy for my leg injury.Hide
2 : to make (something) an official rule The law prescribes a prison sentence of at least five years for the crime. The regulations prescribe that all employees must pass a physical examination. We must follow the rules as prescribed by the government.

Full Definition of prescribe

intransitive verb

1 : to lay down a rule : dictate
2 [Middle English, from Medieval Latin praescribere, from Latin, to write at the beginning] : to claim a title to something by right of prescription
3 : to write or give medical prescriptions
4 : to become by prescription invalid or unenforceable

transitive verb

1a : to lay down as a guide, direction, or rule of action : ordain
b : to specify with authority
2 : to designate or order the use of as a remedy prescribed a painkiller a prescribed burn to restore natural forest conditions

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from prescribe

prescriber noun

Synonyms for prescribe

Synonyms

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 prescribe in a Sentence

This drug should not be prescribed to children. a drug commonly prescribed to treat rashes The doctor prescribed three months of physical therapy for my leg injury. The law prescribes a prison sentence of at least five years for the crime. The regulations prescribe that all employees must pass a physical examination. We must follow the rules as prescribed by the government.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Prescription eye drops: For moderate to severe cases of dry eye, an eye doctor can prescribe drops that, depending on the cause of your dry eye, either increase tear production or decrease inflammation around the surface of the eyes. Jenny Mccoy, Health.com, 14 Oct. 2021 Depending on your particular condition and symptoms, your doctor may also prescribe additional pain medications such as corticosteroid injections, Dr. Troum says. Korin Mille, SELF, 14 Sep. 2021 Physicians who will prescribe medical marijuana must also go through a training program. al, 25 Aug. 2021 Lisa Hofschulz was a licensed Advanced Practice Nurse Prescriber who could legally prescribe the drugs. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 14 Aug. 2021 Here are five your dermatologist—or rheumatologist, or even your primary care physician—may prescribe as either standalone medications or in combinations of two or three. Juno Demelo, Glamour, 10 Aug. 2021 Rogow said having a doctor prescribe a third dose if necessary would have been ideal. BostonGlobe.com, 6 Aug. 2021 Health care professionals who diagnose and treat illness — and who may prescribe food assistance — prefer standard, scalable workflows and procedures. Christina Severin, STAT, 1 Aug. 2021 Will companies who prescribe to the views of futurist thinking see remote work as not only the most viable option but the primary option? Jonathan Kaufman, Forbes, 21 May 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'prescribe.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of prescribe

15th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for prescribe

Middle English, from Latin praescribere to write at the beginning, dictate, order, from prae- + scribere to write — more at scribe

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About prescribe

Time Traveler for prescribe

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near prescribe

prescreen

prescribe

prescript

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for prescribe

Last Updated

24 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Prescribe.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prescribe. Accessed 27 Oct. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for prescribe

prescribe

verb
pre·​scribe | \ pri-ˈskrīb How to pronounce prescribe (audio) \
prescribed; prescribing

Kids Definition of prescribe

1 : to order or direct the use of as a remedy Did the doctor prescribe medicine?
2 : to lay down as a rule of action : order School rules prescribe daily physical activity.

prescribe

verb
pre·​scribe | \ pri-ˈskrīb How to pronounce prescribe (audio) \
prescribed; prescribing

Medical Definition of prescribe

intransitive verb

: to write or give medical prescriptions

transitive verb

: to designate or order the use of as a remedy prescribe a drug

prescribe

verb
pre·​scribe | \ pri-ˈskrīb How to pronounce prescribe (audio) \
prescribed; prescribing

Legal Definition of prescribe

intransitive verb

1 : to claim title or a right to something (as an easement) by prescription a precarious possessor cannot prescribe against the owner
2 in the civil law of Louisiana : to become unenforceable or invalid by prescription any party having an interest in a money judgment may have it revived before it prescribesLouisiana Civil Code

transitive verb

1 : to lay down as a rule or guide : specify with authority the times, places and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the legislature thereofU.S. Constitution art. I
2 in the civil law of Louisiana : to invalidate or bar the enforcement of by prescription this claim for damages shall not be prescribed so long as the minor's right of action exists against his tutorLouisiana Civil Code

More from Merriam-Webster on prescribe

Nglish: Translation of prescribe for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of prescribe for Arabic Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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