See more synonyms for prescribe on
verb (used with object), pre·scribed, pre·scrib·ing.
  1. to lay down, in writing or otherwise, as a rule or a course of action to be followed; appoint, ordain, or enjoin.
  2. Medicine/Medical. to designate or order the use of (a medicine, remedy, treatment, etc.).
verb (used without object), pre·scribed, pre·scrib·ing.
  1. to lay down rules; direct; dictate.
  2. Medicine/Medical. to designate remedies, treatment, etc., to be used.
  3. 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

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 formspre·scrib·a·ble, adjectivepre·scrib·er, nounmis·pre·scribe, verb, mis·pre·scribed, mis·pre·scrib·ing.non·pre·scribed, adjectivenon·pre·scrib·er, nouno·ver·pre·scribe, verb, o·ver·pre·scribed, o·ver·pre·scrib··pre·scribe, verb (used with object), re·pre·scribed, re·pre·scrib·ing.self-pre·scribed, adjectiveun·pre·scribed, adjective
Can be confusedprescribe proscribe

Synonyms for prescribe

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for prescribe

Contemporary Examples of prescribe

Historical Examples of prescribe

  • 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.

British Dictionary definitions for prescribe


  1. to lay down as a rule or directive
  2. law to claim or acquire (a right, title, etc) by prescription
  3. law to make or become invalid or unenforceable by lapse of time
  4. med to recommend or order the use of (a drug or other remedy)
Derived Formsprescriber, noun

Word Origin for prescribe

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

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

prescribe in Medicine


  1. 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.