[ pri-skrahyb ]
/ prɪˈskraɪb /

verb (used with object), pre·scribed, pre·scrib·ing.

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), pre·scribed, pre·scrib·ing.

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

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

Can be confused

prescribe proscribe Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for prescribe

British Dictionary definitions for prescribe


/ (prɪˈskraɪb) /


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 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

Medicine definitions for prescribe


[ prĭ-skrīb ]


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.