1. A rule or principle prescribing a particular course of action or conduct.
2. Law A direction or order issued by an authority; a writ, command, or process.
[Middle English, from
Old French, from
, from neuter past participle of praecipere
, to advise, teach : prae-
, pre- + capere
, to take; see kap- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.
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