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[pri-skrip-tiv] /prɪˈskrɪp tɪv/
that prescribes; giving directions or injunctions:
a prescriptive letter from an anxious father.
depending on or arising from effective legal prescription, as a right or title established by a long unchallenged tenure.
Origin of prescriptive
1740-50; prescript + -ive, modeled on descriptive, etc.
Related forms
prescriptively, adverb
prescriptiveness, noun
nonprescriptive, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for prescriptive
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She has a prescriptive right to the society of the man who arrives.

    American Notes Rudyard Kipling
  • How or when they obtained this prescriptive right is unknown to me.

  • The farmers have the prescriptive right of that, so we have to look to you to keep your fence in repair.

    The Octopus Frank Norris
  • They have a prescriptive right to enter every garden in the village.

    Field and Hedgerow Richard Jefferies
  • Dreams have been considered as prescriptive in various diseases.

    Curiosities of Medical Experience

    J. G. (John Gideon) Millingen
  • She has a prescriptive right to the society of the Man who Arrives.

    From Sea to Sea Rudyard Kipling
  • Paganism had here no prescriptive claim and no time-honoured prestige.

    Sermons J. B. Lightfoot
British Dictionary definitions for prescriptive


making or giving directions, rules, or injunctions
sanctioned by long-standing usage or custom
derived from or based upon legal prescription: a prescriptive title
Derived Forms
prescriptively, adverb
prescriptiveness, noun
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 prescriptive

1748, from Late Latin praescriptivus, from praescript-, past participle stem of praescribere (see prescription). Or formed in English from archaic prescript "a direction" (1530s), from Latin praescriptum.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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