Grammar Monster
Grammar Monster

prescribe and proscribe - the difference

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


The verb to prescribe means to recommend or authorize.

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


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

  • 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.

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.)