‘Prescribe’ and ‘proscribe’

Prescribe and proscribe do not mean the same thing. In some circumstances, it may be very important to know exactly which word to use. Most people are probably familiar with prescribe because it is the correct word for ‘to issue a prescription for medicine’.

PillsPrescribe

  • to recommend or authorise the use of
  • to state authoritatively or lay down as a rule

Proscribe

  • to prohibit or forbid
  • to condemn or denounce; to outlaw or banish

My suggestion for remembering which word to use is to associate prescribe with yes and proscribe with no.

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