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prescribe and proscribe - the difference

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.
Note

Pro is Bad

Proscribe causes confusion because many do not expect a word that starts with pro to have such negative connotations. (As a preposition and a prefix, pro often means for or supportive of.)