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[pri-skrip-shuh n] /prɪˈskrɪp ʃən/
  1. a direction, usually written, by the physician to the pharmacist for the preparation and use of a medicine or remedy.
  2. the medicine prescribed:
    Take this prescription three times a day.
an act of prescribing.
that which is prescribed.
  1. Also called positive prescription. a long or immemorial use of some right with respect to a thing so as to give a right to continue such use.
  2. Also called positive prescription. the process of acquiring rights by uninterrupted assertion of the right over a long period of time.
  3. Also called negative prescription. the loss of rights to legal remedy due to the limitation of time within which an action can be taken.
(of drugs) sold only upon medical prescription; ethical.
Compare over-the-counter (def 2).
Origin of prescription
1250-1300; Middle English < Medieval Latin praescrīptiōn- (stem of praescrīptiō) legal possession (of property), law, order, literally, a writing before, hence, a heading on a document. See prescript, -ion Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for prescription
  • Open your medicine cabinet, and take a close look at every prescription pill bottle you've got.
  • It is a rule which applies equally to prescription drugs, and to government regulation of drugmakers.
  • Keep your prescription medicine handy in a purse or carry-on bag.
  • Apparently they did the job, as my prescription doesn't change so much.
  • Their prescription for a weak economy is a large slug of austerity.
  • That's a prescription for the tropical conditions enjoyed by the cane toad.
  • Stop the ridiculous and vicious imprisoning of poor people who do some drug without a prescription.
  • Authorities are clamping down on the online export of prescription drugs.
  • These principles are not a prescription for didactic moralism, but the foundation of informed democracy.
  • Shake it up by considering them in the context of prescription drugs.
British Dictionary definitions for prescription


  1. written instructions from a physician, dentist, etc, to a pharmacist stating the form, dosage strength, etc, of a drug to be issued to a specific patient
  2. the drug or remedy prescribed
(modifier) (of drugs) available legally only with a doctor's prescription
  1. written instructions from an optician specifying the lenses needed to correct defects of vision
  2. (as modifier): prescription glasses
the act of prescribing
something that is prescribed
a long established custom or a claim based on one
  1. the uninterrupted possession of property over a stated period of time, after which a right or title is acquired (positive prescription)
  2. the barring of adverse claims to property, etc, after a specified period of time has elapsed, allowing the possessor to acquire title (negative prescription)
  3. the right or title acquired in either of these ways
Word Origin
C14: from legal Latin praescriptiō an order, prescription; see prescribe
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
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Word Origin and History for prescription

late 14c., in law, "the right to something through long use," from Old French prescription (13c.) and directly from Latin praescriptionem (nominative praescriptio) "a writing before, order, direction," noun of action from past participle stem of praescribere "write before, prefix in writing; ordain, determine in advance," from prae "before" (see pre-) + scribere "to write" (see script (n.)). Medical sense of "written directions from a doctor" first recorded 1570s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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prescription in Medicine

prescription pre·scrip·tion (prĭ-skrĭp'shən)

  1. A written order, especially by a physician, for the preparation and administration of a medicine or other treatment.

  2. A prescribed medicine or other treatment.

  3. An ophthalmologist's or optometrist's written instruction, as for the grinding of corrective lenses.

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