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rule definition


This page has 21 definitions of rule in English and Spanish, Castilian. Rule is a noun and verb. Examples of how to use rule in a sentence are shown. Also define these 0 related words and terms: .

See also: Rule and rulé

English rule definition


Etymology 1

From Middle English reule, rewle, rule, borrowed from Old French riule, reule, from Latin regula (straight stick, bar, ruler, pattern), from regō (to keep straight, direct, govern, rule), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *h₃réǵeti (to straighten; right), from the root *h₃reǵ-; see regent.


rule (countable and uncountable, plural rules)

  1. A regulation, law, guideline.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:rule
    All participants must adhere to the rules.
    • a. 1694, John Tillotson, Of The Obligations of Christians to a Holy Life:
      We profess to have embraced a religion which contains the most exact rules for the government of our lives.
    • 2013 June 22, “T time”, in The Economist, volume 407, number 8841, page 68:
      The ability to shift profits to low-tax countries by locating intellectual property in them [] is often assumed to be the preserve of high-tech companies. [] current tax rules make it easy for all sorts of firms to generate [] “stateless income”: profit subject to tax in a jurisdiction that is neither the location of the factors of production that generate the income nor where the parent firm is domiciled.
  2. A regulating principle.
  3. The act of ruling; administration of law; government; empire; authority; control.
  4. A normal condition or state of affairs.
    My rule is to rise at six o'clock.
    As a rule, our senior editors are serious-minded.
  5. (obsolete) Conduct; behaviour.
  6. (law) An order regulating the practice of the courts, or an order made between parties to an action or a suit.
  7. (mathematics) A determinate method prescribed for performing any operation and producing a certain result.
    a rule for extracting the cube root
  8. A ruler; device for measuring, a straightedge, a measure.
    • a. 1716, Robert South, Sermons[1]:
      As we may observe in the Works of Art, a Judicious Artist will indeed use his Eye, but he will trust only to his Rule.
  9. A straight line (continuous mark, as made by a pen or the like), especially one lying across a paper as a guide for writing.
  10. (printing, dated) A thin plate of brass or other metal, of the same height as the type, and used for printing lines, as between columns on the same page, or in tabular work.
Derived terms
Terms derived from the noun rule
Related terms

Etymology 2

From Middle English reulen, rulen, borrowed from Old French riuler, from Latin regulāre (to regulate, rule), from regula (a rule); see regular and regulate.


rule (third-person singular simple present rules, present participle ruling, simple past and past participle ruled)

  1. (transitive, stative) To regulate, be in charge of, make decisions for, reign over.
    • 1918, W[illiam] B[abington] Maxwell, chapter XIII, in The Mirror and the Lamp, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, →OCLC:
      And Vickers launched forth into a tirade very different from his platform utterances. He spoke with extreme contempt of the dense stupidity exhibited on all occasions by the working classes. He said that if you wanted to do anything for them, you must rule them, not pamper them. Soft heartedness caused more harm than good.
  2. (slang, intransitive, stative) To excel.
    This game rules!
  3. (intransitive) To decide judicially.
  4. (transitive) To establish or settle by, or as by, a rule; to fix by universal or general consent, or by common practice.
  5. (transitive) To mark (paper or the like) with rules (lines).
  • (to excel): rock (also slang)
  • (to excel): suck (vulgar slang)
Derived terms
Terms derived from rule (verb)

Etymology 3

Related to revel.



  1. (obsolete) Revelry.


rule (third-person singular simple present rules, present participle ruling, simple past and past participle ruled)

  1. (obsolete, intransitive) To revel.

Further reading


Spanish rule definition



  1. inflection of rular:
    1. first/third-person singular present subjunctive
    2. third-person singular imperative