a. Governing power or its possession or use; authority.
b. The duration of such power.
a. 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.
b. The body of regulations prescribed by the founder of a religious order for governing the conduct of its members.
3. A usual, customary, or generalized course of action or behavior: "The rule of life in the defense bar ordinarily is to go along and get along" (Scott Turow).
4. A generalized statement that describes what is true in most or all cases: In this office, hard work is the rule, not the exception.
5. Mathematics A standard method or procedure for solving a class of problems.
a. A court decision serving as a precedent for subsequent cases: the Miranda rule.
b. A legal doctrine or principle.
c. A court order.
d. A minor regulation or law.
e. A statute or regulation governing the court process: rule of procedure; rule of evidence.
7. See ruler.
8. Printing A thin metal strip of various widths and designs, used to print borders or lines, as between columns.
v. ruled, rul·ing, rules
1. To exercise control, dominion, or direction over; govern: rule a kingdom.
a. To have a powerful influence over; dominate: "Many found the lanky westerner naive, and supposed that he would be ruled by one of his more commanding cabinet officers" (William Marvel).
b. To be a preeminent or dominant factor in: "It was a place where ... middle-class life was ruled by a hankering for all things foreign" (Amitav Ghosh).
3. To decide or declare authoritatively or judicially; decree: The judges ruled that the answer was acceptable. The police ruled the death a homicide. The law was ruled unconstitutional. See Synonyms at decide.
a. To mark with straight parallel lines.
b. To mark (a straight line), as with a ruler.
1. To be in total control or command; exercise supreme authority.
2. To formulate and issue a decree or decision.
3. To prevail at a particular level or rate: Prices ruled low.
4. Slang To be excellent or superior: That new video game rules!
1. To prevent; preclude: The snowstorm ruled out their weekly meeting.
2. To remove from consideration; exclude: The option of starting over has been ruled out.
as a rule
In general; for the most part: As a rule, we take the bus.
[Middle English reule, from Old French, from Vulgar Latin *regula, from Latin rēgula, rod, principle; see reg- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 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.