[pri-skrip-shuh n]


  1. a direction, usually written, by the physician to the pharmacist for the preparation and use of a medicine or remedy.
  2. the medicine prescribed: Take this prescription three times a day.
an act of prescribing.
that which is prescribed.
  1. Also called positive prescription.a long or immemorial use of some right with respect to a thing so as to give a right to continue such use.
  2. Also called positive prescription.the process of acquiring rights by uninterrupted assertion of the right over a long period of time.
  3. Also called negative prescription.the loss of rights to legal remedy due to the limitation of time within which an action can be taken.


(of drugs) sold only upon medical prescription; ethical.Compare over-the-counter(def 2).

Nearby words

  1. prescott, william hickling,
  2. prescreen,
  3. prescribe,
  4. prescript,
  5. prescriptible,
  6. prescriptive,
  7. prescriptive grammar,
  8. prescriptivism,
  9. prescriptivist,
  10. prescutum

Origin of prescription

1250–1300; Middle English < Medieval Latin praescrīptiōn- (stem of praescrīptiō) legal possession (of property), law, order, literally, a writing before, hence, a heading on a document. See prescript, -ion Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for prescription

British Dictionary definitions for prescription



  1. written instructions from a physician, dentist, etc, to a pharmacist stating the form, dosage strength, etc, of a drug to be issued to a specific patient
  2. the drug or remedy prescribed
(modifier) (of drugs) available legally only with a doctor's prescription
  1. written instructions from an optician specifying the lenses needed to correct defects of vision
  2. (as modifier)prescription glasses
the act of prescribing
something that is prescribed
a long established custom or a claim based on one
  1. the uninterrupted possession of property over a stated period of time, after which a right or title is acquired (positive prescription)
  2. the barring of adverse claims to property, etc, after a specified period of time has elapsed, allowing the possessor to acquire title (negative prescription)
  3. the right or title acquired in either of these ways

Word Origin for prescription

C14: from legal Latin praescriptiō an order, prescription; see prescribe

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 prescription



late 14c., in law, "the right to something through long use," from Old French prescription (13c.) and directly from Latin praescriptionem (nominative praescriptio) "a writing before, order, direction," noun of action from past participle stem of praescribere "write before, prefix in writing; ordain, determine in advance," from prae "before" (see pre-) + scribere "to write" (see script (n.)). Medical sense of "written directions from a doctor" first recorded 1570s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for prescription




An order, especially by a physician, for the preparation and administration of a medicine, therapeutic regimen, assistive or corrective device, or other treatment.
A prescribed medicine.

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