from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Governing power or its possession or use; authority.
  • noun The duration of such power.
  • noun An authoritative, prescribed direction for conduct, especially one of the regulations governing procedure in a legislative body or a regulation observed by the players in a game, sport, or contest.
  • noun The body of regulations prescribed by the founder of a religious order for governing the conduct of its members.
  • noun A usual, customary, or generalized course of action or behavior.
  • noun A generalized statement that describes what is true in most or all cases.
  • noun Mathematics A standard method or procedure for solving a class of problems.
  • noun A court decision serving as a precedent for subsequent cases.
  • noun A legal doctrine or principle.
  • noun A court order.
  • noun A minor regulation or law.
  • noun A statute or regulation governing the court process.
  • noun Printing A thin metal strip of various widths and designs, used to print borders or lines, as between columns.
  • intransitive verb To exercise control, dominion, or direction over; govern.
  • intransitive verb To have a powerful influence over; dominate.
  • intransitive verb To be a preeminent or dominant factor in.
  • intransitive verb To decide or declare authoritatively or judicially; decree: synonym: decide.
  • intransitive verb To mark with straight parallel lines.
  • intransitive verb To mark (a straight line), as with a ruler.
  • intransitive verb To be in total control or command; exercise supreme authority.
  • intransitive verb To formulate and issue a decree or decision.
  • intransitive verb To prevail at a particular level or rate.
  • intransitive verb Slang To be excellent or superior.
  • idiom (as a rule) In general; for the most part.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun An instrument with an edge approximately straight, subserving purposes of measurement.
  • noun A formula to which conduct must be conformed; a minor law, canon, or regulation, especially a regulation which a person imposes upon himself: as, the rules of whist.
  • noun Specifically— In monasteries or other religious societies, the code of laws required to be observed by the society and its individual members: as, the rule of St. Benedict, the rule of St. Basil, etc.
  • noun In law: A statement of a principle of law propounded as controlling or entitled to control conduct; the principle thus stated: as, the rule against perpetuities (see perpetuity, 3). In this sense some rules are statutory or constitutional—that is, created by or embodied in statutes or a constitution; some are common-law rules, as many of the rules of evidence; and some are equitable—that is, introduced by the courts of equity. More specifically, regulations (generally, if not always, promulgated in writing) prescribed by a court or judges for the conduct of litigation, being either general rules, applicable to whole classes of cases (commonly called rules of court), or particular rules, or orders in particular causes: as, a rule for a new trial, a rule nisi, etc.
  • noun plural In American parliamentary law, the regulations adopted by a deliberative body for the conduct of its proceedings, corresponding to the standing orders of the British House of Commons.
  • noun In grammar, an established form of construction in a particular class of words, or the expression of that form in words. Thus, it is a rule in English that s or es added to a noun in the singular number forms the plural of that noun; but man forms its plural men, and so is an exception to the rule.
  • noun A form of words embodying a method for attaining a desired result; also, the method itself: as, the rules of art; especially, in arithmetic, the description of a process for solving a problem or performing a calculation; also, the method itself.
  • noun The expression of a uniformity; a general proposition; especially, the statement that under certain circumstances certain phenomena will present themselves: as, failure is the general rule, success the exception.
  • noun In law: Jail limits. See rules of a prison, below.
  • noun The time and place appointed in a court, or in the office of its clerk, for entering rules or orders such as do not require to be granted by the court in term time. Hence the phrase at rules, at the session so appointed.
  • noun Conformity to rule; regularity; propriety: as, to be out of rule.
  • noun The possession and exertion of guiding and controlling power; government; sway; dominion; supreme command or authority.
  • noun In printing, a thin strip of rolled brass, cut type-high, used for the printing of continuous lines. (See composing.)
  • noun In plastering, a strip of wood placed on the face of a wall as a guide to assist in keeping the plane surface.
  • noun In musical notation, same as line, 2 .
  • noun See def. 8.
  • noun Synonyms Precept, etc. (see principle), law, regulation, formula, criterion, standard.
  • noun Direction, regulation, dominion, lordship, authority, mastery, domination.


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

[Middle English reule, from Old French, from Vulgar Latin *regula, from Latin rēgula, rod, principle; see reg- in Indo-European roots.]


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    June 14, 2008

  • Huh huh huh. Words, like, rule.

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  • Words like rule rule. Or do words like like rule?

    June 14, 2008

  • RULE: Nonurban, as “He comes from the rule area.”

    July 2, 2012