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[pri-skrahyb] /prɪˈskraɪb/
verb (used with object), prescribed, prescribing.
to lay down, in writing or otherwise, as a rule or a course of action to be followed; appoint, ordain, or enjoin.
Medicine/Medical. to designate or order the use of (a medicine, remedy, treatment, etc.).
verb (used without object), prescribed, prescribing.
to lay down rules; direct; dictate.
Medicine/Medical. to designate remedies, treatment, etc., to be used.
Law. to claim a right or title by virtue of long use and enjoyment; make a prescriptive claim. (usually followed by for or to).
Origin of prescribe
late Middle English
1425-75; late Middle English < Latin praescrībere to direct in writing, literally, to write before or above, equivalent to prae- pre- + scrībere to write; see scribe1, prescription
Related forms
prescribable, adjective
prescriber, noun
misprescribe, verb, misprescribed, misprescribing.
nonprescribed, adjective
nonprescriber, noun
overprescribe, verb, overprescribed, overprescribing.
represcribe, verb (used with object), represcribed, represcribing.
self-prescribed, adjective
unprescribed, adjective
Can be confused
prescribe, proscribe.
1. direct, dictate, decree. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for prescribe
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • You are not placed near them for that, but only to receive your fees and to prescribe remedies.

  • Does it, however, become us to prescribe rules to Omniscience?

  • Are you, who refuse ever body's advice, to prescribe a husband to your sister?

    Clarissa, Volume 2 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
  • For the present he can but prescribe a purgative and a massage of the arm and spine.

    The Book of Khalid Ameen Rihani
  • I will do as you prescribe, said Aristophanes, and now get on.

    Symposium Plato
British Dictionary definitions for prescribe


to lay down as a rule or directive
(law) to claim or acquire (a right, title, etc) by prescription
(law) to make or become invalid or unenforceable by lapse of time
(med) to recommend or order the use of (a drug or other remedy)
Derived Forms
prescriber, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Latin praescrībere to write previously, from prae before + scrībere to write
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for prescribe

"to write down as a direction," mid-15c., from Latin praescribere "write beforehand" (see prescription). Related: Prescribed; prescribing. Medical sense is from 1580s, probably a back formation from prescription.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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prescribe in Medicine

prescribe pre·scribe (prĭ-skrīb')
v. pre·scribed, pre·scrib·ing, pre·scribes
To give directions, either orally or in writing, for the preparation and administration of a remedy to be used in the treatment of a disease.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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