prescribe and proscribe - the difference

by Craig Shrives
The Quick Answer
To prescribe means to recommend or to authorize.
To proscribe means to forbid.

Prescribe

The verb to prescribe means to recommend or authorize.

Examples:
  • I have prescribed you a course of antibiotics.
  • The law prescribes a minimum of 10 years' incarceration for your
    offence.

Proscribe

The verb to proscribe means to forbid, to limit or to banish.

Examples:
  • These photos are worthless. Such images are proscribed by law.
  • Police have been tracking three members of the group, which was proscribed in the 80s.
  • Name one country that does not proscribe theft.
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose?
What are prepositions? What are verbs? List of easily confused words