an authoritative decision, as one by a judge on a debated point of law.
the act of drawing straight lines with a ruler.
ruled lines.


governing or dominating: the ruling party.
controlling; predominating: the ruling factor in recovery from an illness.
widespread; prevalent: ruling prices; ruling values.

Nearby words

  1. ruler,
  2. rulership,
  3. rules,
  4. rules committee,
  5. rules of order,
  6. ruling elder,
  7. ruling grade,
  8. ruly,
  9. rum,
  10. rum rebellion

Origin of ruling

1175–1225; Middle English (gerund); see rule, -ing1, -ing2

Related formsnon·rul·ing, noun, adjective




a principle or regulation governing conduct, action, procedure, arrangement, etc.: the rules of chess.
the code of regulations observed by a religious order or congregation: the Franciscan rule.
the customary or normal circumstance, occurrence, manner, practice, quality, etc.: the rule rather than the exception.
control, government, or dominion: under the rule of a dictator.
tenure or conduct of reign or office: during the rule of George III.
a prescribed mathematical method for performing a calculation or solving a problem.
(initial capital letter) Astronomy. the constellation Norma.
Printing. a thin, type-high strip of metal, for printing a solid or decorative line or lines.
  1. a formal order or direction made by a court, as for governing the procedure of the court (general rule) or for sending the case before a referee (special rule).
  2. a legal principle.
  3. a court order in a particular case.
rules, Penology. (formerly)
  1. a fixed area in the neighborhood of certain prisons within which certain prisoners were allowed to live.
  2. the freedom of such an area.
Obsolete. behavior.

verb (used with object), ruled, rul·ing.

to control or direct; exercise dominating power, authority, or influence over; govern: to rule the empire with severity.
to decide or declare judicially or authoritatively; decree: The judge ruled that he should be exiled.
to mark with lines, especially parallel straight lines, with the aid of a ruler or the like: to rule paper.
to mark out or form (a line) by this method: to rule lines on paper.
to be superior or preeminent in (a specific field or group); dominate by superiority; hold sway over: For centuries, England ruled the seas.

verb (used without object), ruled, rul·ing.

to exercise dominating power or influence; predominate.
to exercise authority, dominion, or sovereignty.
to make a formal decision or ruling, as on a point at law.
to be prevalent or current: Higher prices ruled throughout France.

Verb Phrases

rule out,
  1. to prove to be unrelated or not for consideration; eliminate; exclude: to rule out the possibility of error.
  2. to make impossible or impracticable: The rainstorm ruled out the holiday camping.

Origin of rule

1175–1225; (noun) Middle English riule, reule < Old French riule < Latin rēgula straight stick, pattern (see regula); (v.) Middle English riwlen, reulen, rewellen < Old French riuler, rieuler, ruler < Late Latin rēgulāre, derivative of rēgula

Related forms

Synonym study

1. See principle. 13. Rule, administer, command, govern, manage mean to exercise authoritative guidance or direction. Rule implies the exercise of authority as by a sovereign: to rule a kingdom. Administer places emphasis on the planned and orderly procedures used: to administer the finances of an institution. Command suggests military authority and the power to exact obedience; to be in command of: to command a ship. To govern is authoritatively to guide or direct persons or things, especially in the affairs of a large administrative unit: to govern a state. To manage is to conduct affairs, i.e., to guide them in a unified way toward a definite goal, or to direct or control people, often by tact, address, or artifice: to manage a business. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for ruling

British Dictionary definitions for ruling



a decision of someone in authority, such as a judge
one or more parallel ruled lines


controlling or exercising authoritythe ruling classes
prevalent or predominant



an authoritative regulation or direction concerning method or procedure, as for a court of law, legislative body, game, or other human institution or activityjudges' rules; play according to the rules
the exercise of governmental authority or controlthe rule of Caesar
the period of time in which a monarch or government has powerhis rule lasted 100 days
a customary form or procedure; regular course of actionhe made a morning swim his rule
the rule the common order of things; normal conditionviolence was the rule rather than the exception
a prescribed method or procedure for solving a mathematical problem, or one constituting part of a computer program, usually expressed in an appropriate formalism
a formal expression of a grammatical regularity in a linguistic description of a language
any of various devices with a straight edge for guiding or measuring; rulera carpenter's rule
  1. a printed or drawn character in the form of a long thin line
  2. another name for dash 1 (def. 13) en rule; em rule
  3. a strip of brass or other metal used to print such a line
Christianity a systematic body of prescriptions defining the way of life to be followed by members of a religious order
law an order by a court or judge
as a rule normally or ordinarily


to exercise governing or controlling authority over (a people, political unit, individual, etc)he ruled for 20 years; his passion for her ruled his life
(when tr, often takes a clause as object) to decide authoritatively; decreethe chairman ruled against the proposal
(tr) to mark with straight parallel lines or make one straight line, as with a rulerto rule a margin
(tr) to restrain or controlto rule one's temper
(intr) to be customary or prevalentchaos rules in this school
(intr) to be pre-eminent or superiorfootball rules in the field of sport
(tr) astrology (of a planet) to have a strong affinity with certain human attributes, activities, etc, associated with (one or sometimes two signs of the zodiac)Mars rules Aries
rule the roost or rule the roast to be pre-eminent; be in charge
Derived Formsrulable, adjective

Word Origin for rule

C13: from Old French riule, from Latin rēgula a straight edge; see regulate

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 ruling
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for ruling




A usual, customary, or generalized course of action or behavior.
A generalized statement that describes what is true in most or all cases; a standard.

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

Idioms and Phrases with ruling


In addition to the idioms beginning with rule

  • rule of thumb
  • rule out
  • rule the roost

also see:

  • as a rule
  • exception proves the rule
  • ground rules
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.