Definition of prescribe in English:

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Pronunciation: /prɪˈskrʌɪb/


[with object]
1(Of a medical practitioner) advise and authorize the use of (a medicine or treatment) for someone, especially in writing: her doctor prescribed sleeping tablets [with two objects]: he was prescribed a course of antibiotics
More example sentences
  • Afterward, your doctor may prescribe preventive medicine to help you control your headaches without having to rely so heavily on pain remedies.
  • Medical schools no longer taught complementary and alternative medicine, so doctors didn't prescribe those treatments.
  • Your doctor may prescribe medicines if you have a pacemaker and your heart rate is too fast.
order, advise, authorize, direct
1.1Recommend (a substance or action) as something beneficial: marriage is often prescribed as a universal remedy
More example sentences
  • As a breeder, I recommend and prescribe the diet I prefer using for my own dogs and that has worked best for me.
  • Mr. Joseph will inspect plants, prescribe fertilizers and pesticides and suggest measures to revitalise them.
  • I prescribed herbs for her - milk thistle and dandelion - and the levels of toxins in her liver came down.
advise, recommend, advocate, commend, urge, suggest, subscribe to, endorse, support, back, champion, argue for, promote
2State authoritatively or as a rule that (an action or procedure) should be carried out: rules prescribing five acts for a play are purely arbitrary
More example sentences
  • In particular, it must be a source of some concern that the 1981 Act prescribes no real procedures or mechanisms under which a decision to order the slaughter of animals takes place.
  • The Code of Practice also indicates the form that managers reviews should take, although it does not prescribe specific procedures.
  • It details the statutory duties of various public functionaries while prescribing the procedures to be adopted for the timely collection and preservation of vital pieces of evidence.
stipulate, lay down, dictate, specify, impose, set down, determine, establish, fix, formulate, appoint, decree, order, command, pronounce, ordain, require, direct, enjoin, make provision for, promulgate


The verbs prescribe and proscribe do not have the same meaning. Prescribe is a much commoner word and means either ‘issue a medical prescription’ or ‘recommend with authority’, as in the doctor prescribed antibiotics. Proscribe, on the other hand, is a formal word meaning ‘condemn or forbid’, as in gambling was strictly proscribed by the authorities.



Example sentences
  • I think it is a loophole in the law because they are not prescribable products.
  • Only the tested, prescribable medications do that.
  • It never fails, and the uncontrollable sniggering and whooping that follows is one of the best pick-me-ups prescribable.


Example sentences
  • He said: ‘Because of that increased risk, there should have been a warning to prescribers and users.’
  • The report recommended that a monitoring system be set up to track prescriptions, that irresponsible prescribers be prosecuted and that further legislation be introduced.
  • They've also acknowledged the need to increase the amount of information being provided to consumers, to patients, to prescribers.


Late Middle English (in the sense 'confine within bounds', also as a legal term meaning 'claim by prescription'): from Latin praescribere 'direct in writing', from prae 'before' + scribere 'write'.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: pre|scribe

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