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[rool] /rul/
a principle or regulation governing conduct, action, procedure, arrangement, etc.:
the rules of chess.
the code of regulations observed by a religious order or congregation:
the Franciscan rule.
the customary or normal circumstance, occurrence, manner, practice, quality, etc.:
the rule rather than the exception.
control, government, or dominion:
under the rule of a dictator.
tenure or conduct of reign or office:
during the rule of George III.
a prescribed mathematical method for performing a calculation or solving a problem.
ruler (def 2).
(initial capital letter) Astronomy. the constellation Norma.
Printing. a thin, type-high strip of metal, for printing a solid or decorative line or lines.
  1. a formal order or direction made by a court, as for governing the procedure of the court (general rule) or for sending the case before a referee (special rule)
  2. a legal principle.
  3. a court order in a particular case.
rules, Penology.
  1. a fixed area in the neighborhood of certain prisons within which certain prisoners were allowed to live.
  2. the freedom of such an area.
Obsolete. behavior.
verb (used with object), ruled, ruling.
to control or direct; exercise dominating power, authority, or influence over; govern:
to rule the empire with severity.
to decide or declare judicially or authoritatively; decree:
The judge ruled that he should be exiled.
to mark with lines, especially parallel straight lines, with the aid of a ruler or the like:
to rule paper.
to mark out or form (a line) by this method:
to rule lines on paper.
to be superior or preeminent in (a specific field or group); dominate by superiority; hold sway over:
For centuries, England ruled the seas.
verb (used without object), ruled, ruling.
to exercise dominating power or influence; predominate.
to exercise authority, dominion, or sovereignty.
to make a formal decision or ruling, as on a point at law.
to be prevalent or current:
Higher prices ruled throughout France.
Verb phrases
rule out,
  1. to prove to be unrelated or not for consideration; eliminate; exclude:
    to rule out the possibility of error.
  2. to make impossible or impracticable:
    The rainstorm ruled out the holiday camping.
as a rule, generally; usually:
He arrives at eleven o'clock, as a rule.
rule the roost. roost (def 7).
Origin of rule
1175-1225; (noun) Middle English riule, reule < Old French riule < Latin rēgula straight stick, pattern (see regula); (v.) Middle English riwlen, reulen, rewellen < Old French riuler, rieuler, ruler < Late Latin rēgulāre, derivative of rēgula
Related forms
interrule, verb (used with object), interruled, interruling.
self-rule, noun
subrule, noun
underrule, noun
underrule, verb, underruled, underruling.
unruled, adjective
well-ruled, adjective
1. standard, law, ruling, guide, precept, order. See principle. 4. command, domination, mastery, sway, authority, direction. 13. Rule, administer, command, govern, manage mean to exercise authoritative guidance or direction. Rule implies the exercise of authority as by a sovereign: to rule a kingdom. Administer places emphasis on the planned and orderly procedures used: to administer the finances of an institution. Command suggests military authority and the power to exact obedience; to be in command of: to command a ship. To govern is authoritatively to guide or direct persons or things, especially in the affairs of a large administrative unit: to govern a state. To manage is to conduct affairs, i.e., to guide them in a unified way toward a definite goal, or to direct or control people, often by tact, address, or artifice: to manage a business. 14. order, judge. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for self-rule
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Yet in the same apostrophe to rebellion, Jefferson declares that the French people were too shallow for self-rule.

  • It is the want of this self-rule that is the cause of so much that is bad in the world.

    The Book of One Syllable Esther Bakewell
  • Its only hope lies in a capacity for self-management, self-rule, which means self-control.

    The Fruits of Victory Norman Angell
  • I am individually working for the self-rule pictured therein.

    Indian Home Rule M. K. Gandhi
  • He had a profound sense of justice, a love of liberty, and an unfaltering belief in the capacity of the human race for self-rule.

    Albert Gallatin John Austin Stevens
  • I have asked you about Home or self-rule; you are discussing foreign rule.

    Indian Home Rule M. K. Gandhi
  • It should fight for its right of self-rule and should support justice in the international community.

    Government in Republican China Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger
  • It may be a long time before Spain learns the restraint of self-rule.

    Heroic Spain Elizabeth Boyle O'Reilly
  • If this be so, that privilege of self-rule which they have acquired, has been the cause of their success.

British Dictionary definitions for self-rule


another term for self-government (sense 1)


an authoritative regulation or direction concerning method or procedure, as for a court of law, legislative body, game, or other human institution or activity: judges' rules, play according to the rules
the exercise of governmental authority or control: the rule of Caesar
the period of time in which a monarch or government has power: his rule lasted 100 days
a customary form or procedure; regular course of action: he made a morning swim his rule
the rule, the common order of things; normal condition: violence was the rule rather than the exception
a prescribed method or procedure for solving a mathematical problem, or one constituting part of a computer program, usually expressed in an appropriate formalism
a formal expression of a grammatical regularity in a linguistic description of a language
any of various devices with a straight edge for guiding or measuring; ruler: a carpenter's rule
  1. a printed or drawn character in the form of a long thin line
  2. another name for dash1 (sense 13) en rule, em rule
  3. a strip of brass or other metal used to print such a line
(Christianity) a systematic body of prescriptions defining the way of life to be followed by members of a religious order
(law) an order by a court or judge
as a rule, normally or ordinarily
to exercise governing or controlling authority over (a people, political unit, individual, etc): he ruled for 20 years, his passion for her ruled his life
(when transitive, often takes a clause as object) to decide authoritatively; decree: the chairman ruled against the proposal
(transitive) to mark with straight parallel lines or make one straight line, as with a ruler: to rule a margin
(transitive) to restrain or control: to rule one's temper
(intransitive) to be customary or prevalent: chaos rules in this school
(intransitive) to be pre-eminent or superior: football rules in the field of sport
(transitive) (astrology) (of a planet) to have a strong affinity with certain human attributes, activities, etc, associated with (one or sometimes two signs of the zodiac): Mars rules Aries
rule the roost, rule the roast, to be pre-eminent; be in charge
Derived Forms
rulable, adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Old French riule, from Latin rēgula a straight edge; see regulate
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 self-rule



c.1200, "principle or maxim governing conduct, formula to which conduct must be conformed" from Old French riule, Norman reule "rule, custom, (religious) order" (in Modern French partially re-Latinized as règle), from Vulgar Latin *regula, from Latin regula "straight stick, bar, ruler;" figuratively "a pattern, a model," related to regere "to rule, straighten, guide" (see regal). Replaced Old English wealdan.

Meaning "regulation governing play of a game, etc." is from 1690s. Phrase rule of thumb first attested 1690s. Rule of law "supremacy of impartial and well-defined laws to any individual's power" is from 1883. Meaning "strip used for making straight lines or measuring" is recorded from mid-14c. Typography sense is attested from 1680s.


c.1200, "to control, guide, direct," from Old French riuler "impose rule," from Latin regulare (see regulate). Legal sense "establish by decision" is recorded from early 15c. Meaning "mark with lines" is from 1590s. Meaning "to dominate, prevail" is from 1874. "Rule Brittania," patriotic song, is from 1740. Related: Ruled; ruling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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self-rule in Medicine

rule (rōōl)

  1. A usual, customary, or generalized course of action or behavior.

  2. A generalized statement that describes what is true in most or all cases; a standard.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for self-rule



To dominate; to be the most important: Girls rule!

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with self-rule
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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