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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.
ruler ( def 2 ).
(initial capital letter) Astronomy. the constellation Norma.
Printing. a thin, type-high strip of metal, for printing a solid or decorative line or lines.
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)
a legal principle.
a court order in a particular case.
rules, Penology.
a fixed area in the neighborhood of certain prisons within which certain prisoners were allowed to live.
the freedom of such an area.
Obsolete, behavior.
verb (used with object), ruled, ruling.
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, ruling.
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,
to prove to be unrelated or not for consideration; eliminate; exclude: to rule out the possibility of error.
to make impossible or impracticable: The rainstorm ruled out the holiday camping.
as a rule, generally; usually: He arrives at eleven o'clock, as a rule.
rule the roost. roost ( def 6 ).

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

interrule, verb (used with object), interruled, interruling.
self-rule, noun
subrule, noun
underrule, noun
underrule, verb, underruled, underruling.
unruled, adjective
well-ruled, adjective

1. standard, law, ruling, guide, precept, order. See principle. 4. command, domination, mastery, sway, authority, direction. 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. 14. order, judge. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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World English Dictionary
rule (ruːl)
1.  an authoritative regulation or direction concerning method or procedure, as for a court of law, legislative body, game, or other human institution or activity: judges' rules; play according to the rules
2.  the exercise of governmental authority or control: the rule of Caesar
3.  the period of time in which a monarch or government has power: his rule lasted 100 days
4.  a customary form or procedure; regular course of action: he made a morning swim his rule
5.  the rule the common order of things; normal condition: violence was the rule rather than the exception
6.  a prescribed method or procedure for solving a mathematical problem, or one constituting part of a computer program, usually expressed in an appropriate formalism
7.  a formal expression of a grammatical regularity in a linguistic description of a language
8.  any of various devices with a straight edge for guiding or measuring; ruler: a carpenter's rule
9.  a.  a printed or drawn character in the form of a long thin line
 b.  another name for dash : en rule; em rule
 c.  a strip of brass or other metal used to print such a line
10.  Christianity a systematic body of prescriptions defining the way of life to be followed by members of a religious order
11.  law an order by a court or judge
12.  as a rule normally or ordinarily
13.  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
14.  (when tr, often takes a clause as object) to decide authoritatively; decree: the chairman ruled against the proposal
15.  (tr) to mark with straight parallel lines or make one straight line, as with a ruler: to rule a margin
16.  (tr) to restrain or control: to rule one's temper
17.  (intr) to be customary or prevalent: chaos rules in this school
18.  (intr) to be pre-eminent or superior: football rules in the field of sport
19.  (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
20.  rule the roost, rule the roast to be pre-eminent; be in charge
[C13: from Old French riule, from Latin rēgula a straight edge; see regulate]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

early 13c., "principle or maxim governing conduct," from O.Fr. riule, from V.L. *regula, from L. regula "straight stick, bar, ruler, pattern," related to regere "to rule, straighten, guide" (see right). Replaced O.E. wealdan. Meaning "regulation governing play of a game, etc."
is from 1690s. Phrase rule of thumb first attested 1690s. Rule of law "supremacy of impartial and well-defined laws to any individual's power" is from 1883. Meaning "Strip used for making straight lines" is recorded from mid-14c. Typography sense is attested from 1680s.

early 13c., "to control, guide, direct," from O.Fr. riuler, from L. regulare. Legal sense is recorded from 1425 (ruling "judicial decision" is from 1560). Ruler "one who rules" is recorded from late 14c.; meaning "strip used for making straight lines" is c.1400 (see rule (n.)).
"Rule Brittania," patriotic song, is from 1740.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

rule (rōōl)

  1. A usual, customary, or generalized course of action or behavior.

  2. 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.
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