[ roo-brik ]
/ ˈru brɪk /
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written, inscribed in, or marked with or as with red; rubrical.
Archaic. red; ruddy.
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Origin of rubric

1325–75; <Latin rūbrīca red ocher (derivative of ruberred1); replacing Middle English rubriche, rubrike (noun) <Old French
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does rubric mean?

Rubric commonly refers to a set of guidelines or a protocol for how something will or should be done, like how an assignment will be graded.

Rubric is also commonly used to mean a class or category. Its original meaning, which is still used, refers to text printed in red or set apart in some other way, such as a heading in a manuscript. Less commonly, rubric can be used as an adjective meaning written or marked in red.

Example: Please check the rubric when writing your papers so you know exactly what I’m looking for.

Where does rubric come from?

The first records of rubric come from before the 1400s. It traces back to the Latin rūbrīca, which refers to a type of red pigment and derives from ruber, meaning “red.” (This is also the basis for the word ruby.)

In old manuscripts, some of the text was given additional emphasis. While most of the text was black, certain parts were sometimes accented with red, such as headings or additional comments. These parts came to be known as rubrics. (When the first letter of the text in a manuscript is enlarged and decorated, this is often called a historiated initial. When it is colored red, it is said to be rubricated.)

Some of these manuscripts were Christian texts. In this context, rubric came to refer to a direction for how to conduct certain ceremonies. Eventually, rubric began to be used more generally to mean “an explanatory comment” or “an instruction,” such as on an examination. Today, perhaps the most popular use of rubric is in the context of education to refer to a chart that breaks down how an assignment will be graded or some other aspect of a class.

It is also commonly used to mean “class” or “category,” as in Not every example will fit neatly into a rubric.

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What are some other forms related to rubric?

  • rubrical (adjective)
  • rubrically (adverb)

What are some synonyms for rubric?

What are some words that share a root or word element with rubric


What are some words that often get used in discussing rubric?

How is rubric used in real life?

Rubrics are commonly used by teachers in the form of charts. But the word has many meanings that can be used in many different contexts.



Try using rubric!

Is rubric used correctly in the following sentence?

The rubric for this assignment made it very clear that you were supposed to work in pairs.

How to use rubric in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for rubric

/ (ˈruːbrɪk) /

a title, heading, or initial letter in a book, manuscript, or section of a legal code, esp one printed or painted in red ink or in some similarly distinguishing manner
a set of rules of conduct or procedure
a set of directions for the conduct of Christian church services, often printed in red in a prayer book or missal
instructions to a candidate at the head of the examination paper
an obsolete name for red ochre
written, printed, or marked in red

Derived forms of rubric

rubrical, adjectiverubrically, adverb

Word Origin for rubric

C15 rubrike red ochre, red lettering, from Latin rubrīca (terra) red (earth), ruddle, from ruber red
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