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 formspre·scrip·tive·ly, adverbpre·scrip·tive·ness, nounnon·pre·scrip·tive, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for prescriptive

accepted, authoritative, customary, prescribed, rigid, sanctioned

Examples from the Web for prescriptive

Contemporary Examples of prescriptive

Historical Examples of prescriptive

  • 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

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 prescriptiona prescriptive title
Derived Formsprescriptively, adverbprescriptiveness, 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

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