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  • (UK, US) IPA(key): /ɹuːl/, [ɹuːɫ]
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -uːl

Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English reule, rewle, rule, borrowed from Old French riule, reule, itself an early semi-learned borrowing from Latin regula (straight stick, bar, ruler, pattern), from regere (to keep straight, direct, govern, rule); see regent.


rule (countable and uncountable, plural rules)

  1. A regulation, law, guideline.
    All participants must adhere to the rules.
    • Tillotson
      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 ruler; device for measuring, a straightedge, a measure.
    • South
      A judicious artist will use his eye, but he will trust only to his rule.
  3. A straight line (continuous mark, as made by a pen or the like), especially one lying across a paper as a guide for writing.
  4. A regulating principle.
    • c. 1604, William Shakespeare, All's well that ends well, Act I, scene I:
      There's little can be said in 't; 'Tis against the rule of nature.
  5. The act of ruling; administration of law; government; empire; authority; control.
    • Bible, Hebrews xiii. 17
      Obey them that have the rule over you.
    • Alexander Pope
      His stern rule the groaning land obeyed.
  6. 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.
  7. (obsolete) Conduct; behaviour.
    • Shakespeare
      This uncivil rule; she shall know of it.
  8. (law) An order regulating the practice of the courts, or an order made between parties to an action or a suit.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Wharton to this entry?)
  9. (mathematics) A determinate method prescribed for performing any operation and producing a certain result.
    a rule for extracting the cube root
  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 termsEdit

Related termsEdit


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

Etymology 2Edit

From Middle English 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) To regulate, be in charge of, make decisions for, reign over.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 13, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
      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) To excel.
    This game rules!
  3. (transitive) To mark (paper or the like) with rules (lines).
  4. (intransitive) To decide judicially.
  5. (transitive) To establish or settle by, or as by, a rule; to fix by universal or general consent, or by common practice.
    • Atterbury
      That's a ruled case with the schoolmen.


  • (to excel): rock (also slang)


  • (to excel): suck (vulgar slang)

Derived termsEdit

Terms derived from rule (verb)


Further readingEdit





  1. Formal second-person singular (usted) imperative form of rular.
  2. First-person singular (yo) present subjunctive form of rular.
  3. Formal second-person singular (usted) present subjunctive form of rular.
  4. Third-person singular (él, ella, also used with usted?) present subjunctive form of rular.