Definition of prescription in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /prɪˈskrɪpʃ(ə)n/


1An instruction written by a medical practitioner that authorizes a patient to be issued with a medicine or treatment: he scribbled a prescription for tranquillizers [mass noun]: the lotion is available on prescription
More example sentences
  • In brief, the general practitioner writes a prescription which the patient takes to the pharmacist.
  • The authors conclude that at least 7 percent of prescriptions written for pediatric patients in the emergency department are not filled.
  • Then I go to attend to my patients and write prescriptions and directions for their ailments.
instruction, order, direction, authorization
informal script
archaic recipe
1.1 [mass noun] The action of prescribing a medicine or treatment: the unnecessary prescription of antibiotics
More example sentences
  • Exercise and dietary therapy precedes prescription of medication by physicians.
  • These results may have consequences for more targeted prescription of ocular antibiotics.
  • Doctors will usually be less able than exercise teachers to advise on the individualised prescription of particular exercises or activities.
1.2A medicine or remedy that is prescribed: I’ve got to pick up my prescription from the chemist’s
More example sentences
  • Angus waited outside whilst I went in and bought Gerald's medicine, a continuing prescription routinely picked up once a month.
  • But with prescriptions like antibiotics, the medication must be finished for it to be effective.
  • At the chemist picking up my prescription, I saw two young guys standing in line.
medicine, drug, medication, remedy, cure, dose, treatment, preparation, mixture
archaic physic
rare medicament, medicinal, nostrum
2A recommendation that is authoritatively put forward: effective prescriptions for sustaining rural communities
More example sentences
  • Your institution may have recommendations or prescriptions about the form this should take.
  • Put that way, those recommendations sound like a prescription for improvement of ecology in general, not just studies of urbanization effects.
  • However, the letter demonstrates that recommendations and prescriptions for society often reflect individual biases and belief systems.
method, measure;
recommendation, suggestion, advice, recipe, formula, direction
3 (also positive prescription) [mass noun] Law The establishment of a claim founded on the basis of a long or indefinite period of uninterrupted use or of long-standing custom.
Example sentences
  • In order to acquire a right to an easement or right-of-way by prescription, a party must show a clear period of continuous use for a period of twenty years.
  • But their immediate impact on the political structure, at a time when the power of prescription and force of custom were over-riding, is difficult to assess.
  • Lastly, the defence of prescription does not apply to public nuisance because no one can acquire the right to commit a crime.


Late Middle English (as a legal term): via Old French from Latin praescriptio(n-), from the verb praescribere (see prescribe). sense 1 dates from the late 16th century.

Words that rhyme with prescription

ascription, circumscription, conscription, decryption, description, Egyptian, encryption, inscription, misdescription, subscription, superscription, transcription

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: pre|scrip¦tion

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.