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Alternative forms[edit]


Borrowed from Latin praescrībere, from prae- (before, in front) and scrībere (to write).


  • IPA(key): /pɹɪˈskɹaɪb/, /pɹəˈskɹaɪb/
    • (file)
  • (distinguished from proscribe) IPA(key): /ˌpɹiːˈskɹaɪb/
  • Rhymes: -aɪb
  • Homophone: proscribe (in some dialects)


prescribe (third-person singular simple present prescribes, present participle prescribing, simple past and past participle prescribed)

  1. (medicine) To order (a drug or medical device) for use by a particular patient (under licensed authority).
    The doctor prescribed aspirin.
  2. To specify by writing as a required procedure or ritual; to lay down authoritatively as a guide, direction, or rule of action.
    The property meets the criteria prescribed by the regulations.
  3. (law) To develop or assert a right; to make a claim (by prescription).
    • 1753, Andrew McDouall, An Institute of the Laws of Scotland in Civil Rights [] , volume 3, Table of Contents, page 86:
      Most probable that one presentation and 40 years possession thereafter, is sufficient to prescribe a right of patronage.
    • 1834, Patrick Shaw, Digest of Cases Decided in the Courts of Session, Teinds, and Justiciary in the House of Lords, 1821–1833 [] , page 135:
      [] held, in a question with a party who had acquired right from the commissioners of the forfeited estates to the estate of the forfeited superior, as it stood in his person, that the crown charter of the vassal was a valid title on which to prescribe a right to the coal []
    • 1987, Joseph Canning, The Political Thought of Baldus de Ubaldis, page 53:
      Because of the juristic difficulties associated with the Donation of Constantine, the question of whether the papacy had in any case prescribed its jurisdiction in the patrimony had become a common topic amongst jurists []


Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]





  1. inflection of prescribir:
    1. third-person singular present indicative
    2. second-person singular imperative