from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A rule or principle prescribing a particular course of action or conduct.
  • n. Law An authorized direction or order; a writ.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A rule or principle, especially one governing personal conduct.
  • n. A written command, especially a demand for payment.
  • v. To teach by precepts.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Any commandment, instruction, or order intended as an authoritative rule of action; esp., a command respecting moral conduct; an injunction; a rule.
  • n. A command in writing; a species of writ or process.
  • transitive v. To teach by precepts.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To teach; lead by precept.
  • To order by rule; ordain.
  • n. A commandment or direction given as a rule of action; teaching; instruction; especially, an injunction as to moral conduct; a rule of conduct; a maxim.
  • n. In law: A command or mandate in writing issued by a court or judge, as for bringing a person, record, or other matter before him, or for the collection of costs, etc., or for summoning jurors, etc.
  • n. In English law, a command or mandate in writing issued pursuant to law by an administrative officer: as, a sheriff's precept for a municipal election.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. rule of personal conduct
  • n. a doctrine that is taught


Middle English, from Old French, from Latin praeceptum, from neuter past participle of praecipere, to advise, teach : prae-, pre- + capere, to take; see kap- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Vulgar Latin praeceptum, form of praecipere ("to teach"), from Latin prae ("pre-") + capere ("take"). (Wiktionary)



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  • "Example is more powerful than precept."

    Aesop (620 BC-560 BC)

    February 1, 2007