Definition of rule in English:



  • 1One of a set of explicit or understood regulations or principles governing conduct or procedure within a particular area of activity.

    ‘the rules of cricket’
    ‘those who did break the rules would be dealt with swiftly’
    • ‘Competition was artificial, and took place according to codes of rules and the conventions of fair play.’
    • ‘Both parents agreed that Alana requires structure and discipline, rules and guidance.’
    • ‘There are strict rules and regulations governing these types of events.’
    • ‘Property purchase procedures, rules and regulations vary enormously around the world.’
    • ‘A spokesman for the facility said that under the rules and regulations governing prison staff the accused cannot be suspended from duty.’
    • ‘He said he did not understand the document explaining rules and procedures for taxi drivers from the council.’
    • ‘Help them understand that their rules and regulations are a bit severe.’
    • ‘We need to have some rules and regulations governing driving on a commercial basis for income.’
    • ‘In any market-place, buyers and sellers need rules which govern their conduct and prevent abuses of their respective positions.’
    • ‘Over here, the estate agent is governed by very strict rules, regulations.’
    • ‘As a result, water is now subject to the same rules and regulations governing other commodities, such as oil and natural gas.’
    • ‘They will explore issues such as discipline, rules, playing with their child and rewarding for good behaviour.’
    • ‘The proposals are the latest in a number of regulations involving the rules governing the supply and use of fireworks.’
    • ‘There have to be some rules which govern procedures of courts.’
    • ‘It is not possible to lay down rigid rules, as each case will depend on its own circumstances.’
    • ‘One can demonstrate to skeptics the explicit rules which govern a skill, or a game, but not those which govern an art.’
    • ‘Homicide detectives follow some pretty straightforward rules in murder investigations.’
    • ‘These managers rode roughshod over the rules that govern corporate activity and betrayed the trust of the investors.’
    • ‘In your home, your house rules dictate who says and does what.’
    • ‘A broadway parish councillor is urging his fellow members to rethink a controversial new rule, which he feels limits a villager's opportunity to be heard.’
    regulation, ruling, directive, order, court order, act, law, by-law, statute, edict, canon, ordinance, pronouncement, mandate, command, dictate, dictum, decree, fiat, proclamation, injunction, commandment, prescription, stipulation, requirement, precept, guideline, direction
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    1. 1.1 A principle that operates within a particular sphere of knowledge, describing or prescribing what is possible or allowable.
      ‘the rules of grammar’
      • ‘To get through it unscathed, we all have to play by our own rules as much as possible.’
      • ‘There are certain things that enhance health, including the maintenance of basic rules of hygiene, religious practices and respecting norms of behaviour.’
      • ‘Silicon Valley is still operating under the rules and values I described nearly three years ago.’
      • ‘When Sun-hwa is dragged into her life of prostitution, she is also brought into a world that operates under completely different rules.’
      • ‘Clay also has rules - discipline - which must be followed initially, as you are learning to work with the medium.’
      • ‘Evidently you, your editor, and your organization do not operate under the same rules of journalism.’
      • ‘Every Hollywood blockbuster operates by these rules to some extent, but few, if any push this style to this extreme.’
      • ‘It is a descriptive fact that some people do eat peas with a knife, just as many speakers of English do not follow the rules of prescriptive grammars.’
      • ‘Once again, we cannot want a world that operates by these rules - but that is the world we would be promoting.’
      • ‘Once the bin is full, the rules of composting say that you should turn the material in the bin every few weeks.’
      • ‘The first rule for controlling rose diseases is prevention.’
      • ‘The Internet operates by very different rules from other electronic information systems.’
      • ‘People and the physical world do not operate solely by the rules of deductive logic, therefore deductive logic is insufficient to solve problems in the real world.’
      precept, principle, standard, axiom, truth, truism, maxim, aphorism
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    2. 1.2 A code of practice and discipline for a religious order or community.
      ‘the Rule of St Benedict’
      • ‘Toward the end of his life, Benedict drew up his rule for this community.’
      • ‘Benedict drew up a rule for the monastic communities which were based on needs and functions.’
      • ‘New-style communities based on a rule, first provided by St Augustine of Hippo, but refined and made more austere at the end of the eleventh century, emerged.’
  • 2mass noun Control of or dominion over an area or people.

    ‘the revolution brought an end to British rule’
    • ‘During the decades of Soviet rule, the government controlled the economy.’
    • ‘Three years later Ieyasu established the Tokugawa shogunate at Edo that would last until the re-establishment of imperial rule in 1868.’
    • ‘The uprising against imperial rule went on for many years until Numancia was finally besieged and burned to the ground.’
    • ‘Julius Caesar's assassination in 44 BC was followed by the development of imperial rule, headed by the first emperor, Augustus.’
    • ‘Lasting only ten months before Spain resumed control, Britain's rule was of short duration.’
    • ‘The invasion was preceded by a concerted press campaign demonising the Spanish for their tyrannical and brutal colonial rule.’
    • ‘However, more than 500 years of Muslim rule in the area left a lasting legacy.’
    • ‘During its sixty years of colonial rule, Britain controlled the population by fomenting regional and ethnic divisions.’
    • ‘Ulster was always the largest area under Gaelic rule since medieval times.’
    • ‘There is no stipulation of a time limit for US political rule and economic control over the country's resources.’
    • ‘Democracy has been conveniently thrown out the door and in its wake imperialist and dictatorial rule reign supreme.’
    • ‘During the later stages of British rule it had exercised considerable administrative independence.’
    • ‘It puts the Republicans in a strange position, because they are in favor of local control and local rule, and here it is on television, local democracy in action.’
    • ‘After a century of colonial rule and decades of control by the South African apartheid government, Namibians were given a chance to elect their own leader.’
    • ‘We found that there were many countries in the area where Soviet rule had either banned music or modified instruments.’
    • ‘Frustrated residents have formed a new group to try to win back a ‘no-go area’ from yob rule.’
    • ‘However the price that had to be paid, was a strict and oppressive rule that controlled even the most trivial things of everyday's life.’
    • ‘They held great power, and the British, while in control of the country, allowed for local rule in remote areas.’
    • ‘When independence was declared in 1962, the area reverted to Tutsi rule.’
    • ‘But then, if you remember - it was salt-making that Gandhi chose as his first symbolic challenge to British imperial rule over India.’
    control, jurisdiction, command, power, sway, dominion, government, administration, sovereignty, leadership, ascendancy, supremacy, authority, direction, mastery, hegemony, regime, influence
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  • 3the ruleThe normal or customary state of things.

    ‘such accidents are the exception rather than the rule’
    • ‘Those digital tools still represent the exception rather than the rule, but old media is finally beginning to put new media to work on real audience needs.’
    • ‘Knowing the results show most are late, we hope less stigma is attached to finishing late, as it is the rule rather than the exception.’
    • ‘It's become the norm rather than the rule, and it does nothing to enhance the credibility of the medical profession.’
    • ‘But York is the exception rather than the rule, Mr Hinchliffe says.’
    • ‘From what I hear from patients everyday, you would think that fast and abstinence is the rule rather than exception.’
    • ‘Guilt is the reference to the rule or norm and the implied or stated fact that the child is bad for not adhering to it.’
    • ‘To date this has been the exception rather than the rule, resulting in children becoming therapeutic orphans sometimes with tragic consequences.’
    • ‘In the study of environmental toxins, the causation of diverse effects is usually the rule rather than the exception.’
    • ‘Ben is putting more controls in place so that this sort of thing stays an exception to the rule, rather than the norm.’
    • ‘Starvation is mercifully the exception rather than the rule - when it still exists, it is the result of social inequality rather than an absolute failure to produce food.’
    • ‘Nor does it rule out individual cases of badly managed towns; it just means they are the exception, rather than the rule.’
    • ‘As with other forms of prejudice such stereotypes are largely false - for example, it is the exception rather than the rule for older people to become confused.’
    • ‘There was a time, decades ago, when third-level education was the exception rather than the rule in Irish society; that is no longer the case.’
    • ‘Mallatt argues that such internal arches were the rule, rather than the exception, despite the lack of specific fossil evidence.’
    • ‘One lorry contained some very fine items of bedroom and sitting room furniture at good prices but this was the exception rather than the rule on the day.’
    • ‘In the history of art they are the rule rather than the exception.’
    • ‘Signals, carriages and engines all need major upgrading while delays, derailments and breakdowns are the rule rather than the exception.’
    • ‘At first it was optional but soon it became a habit and finally the rule.’
    • ‘Meldrew and Greengrass, though, are the exceptions rather than the rule, she says.’
    • ‘Organizations that face trying conditions with catastrophic potential have now become the rule rather than the exception.’
    procedure, practice, protocol, convention, standard, norm, form, routine, custom, habit, wont
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  • 4A strip of wood or other rigid material used for measuring length or marking straight lines; a ruler.

    • ‘The plastic template contains rules, measures and a hole-punching guide.’
    • ‘Use a rule and a sharp pencil and move rule and pencil along the wall to give a pencil line on the paper.’
    • ‘Bench rules were often made of maple, log and board rules of hickory, and blacksmith's rules and counter measures of brass.’
    • ‘When there are bubbles, cut into the veneer with a sharp razor blade using a steel rule for guidance.’
    • ‘Using pen and rule, draw a rectangle or square on top of the book you want to alter.’
    system, standard, units, scale
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    1. 4.1 A thin printed line or dash.
      • ‘In accordance with guidelines for advertising labeling in print newspapers, a thin black rule was placed just after the sponsorship.’
      dash, bar, score
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  • 5Australian


  • 1with object Exercise ultimate power or authority over (an area and its people)

    ‘Latin America today is ruled by elected politicians’
    no object ‘the period in which Spain ruled over Portugal’
    • ‘This group ruled the area during the eighth and ninth centuries.’
    • ‘During this period, Byzantine art flourished in many areas no longer ruled by the emperor.’
    • ‘This provided a defensive stronghold for the Prince Bishops of Durham, who for centuries ruled the area with their own armies, courts and coinage.’
    • ‘For over 650 years, a Muslim government based in Delhi ruled much of the area that makes up modern Pakistan.’
    • ‘For centuries, Libya was ruled by foreign powers.’
    • ‘Beginning in the 10th century, they were ruled by a line of sacred kings and queens called the Tu'i Tonga.’
    • ‘Ancient Egypt declined, was overrun and thereafter ruled by foreign powers.’
    • ‘Now at the peak of his power, he ruled three quarters of the Welsh population.’
    • ‘But the Ruthenians of Galicia had no wish to be ruled over by Poles and drew close to the Czechs in defence of Austro-Slavism.’
    • ‘The House of Saud has ruled Saudi Arabia since the country's founding in 1932.’
    • ‘Other ethnic groups joined them to form the three kingdoms that ruled the area before the arrival of Europeans: the Kongo, Loango, and Teke.’
    • ‘The Turkish Ottoman Empire took control in 1516 and ruled the area for four hundred years.’
    • ‘Although Polyneices is next in line to rule Thebes, Eteocles claims the throne for himself with the support of Creon and exiles his brother.’
    • ‘Previous governments had ended quickly and violently, the people wanted to be ruled over by a single capable man.’
    • ‘By the end of the eighteenth century, a Turkish tribe called the Qajars ruled the area now known as Iran.’
    • ‘Romans, Vandals, Visigoths, and Byzantine Greeks successively ruled the area.’
    • ‘This expansion into Welsh territory led to the establishment of the March of Wales, an area previously ruled by the Welsh kings.’
    • ‘Many powers have ruled the land, under many different names.’
    • ‘So that means that for five of the last eight years, all-powerful, unelected leaders have ruled over us.’
    • ‘Having been ruled by foreign powers since the sixteenth century, Moldova declared its independence on 27 August 1991.’
    govern, preside over, control, have control of, be in control of, lead, be the leader of, dominate, run, head, direct, administer, manage, regulate
    be in power, be in control, hold sway, be in authority, be in command, be in charge, govern, be at the helm
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    1. 1.1 (of a feeling) have a powerful and restricting influence on.
      ‘her whole life seemed to be ruled by fear’
      • ‘His actions had confused her entirely, and in the end, she had let fear rule her actions.’
      • ‘If we allow fear to rule our lives, to govern our travel plans, our ambitions and hopes, then they have won.’
      • ‘Embarrassment and anger ruled her actions now.’
      • ‘With eight games remaining and only two away, the team's destiny is in their own hands but they must learn from this experience and not let complacency rule the day.’
      • ‘There are times when you'll have every right to be angry, but you should never let that emotion rule you, or guide you.’
      • ‘By using food to fix our draggy moods and low energy, we're letting our emotions rule our bodies, and we're getting fatter in the bargain.’
      • ‘The boy had about as much sense as his mother, letting his passions rule him instead of his head.’
      • ‘Essentially, nobody knew what was going on, and emotions were ruling some heads that should have been kept cooler.’
      • ‘While it's true that people can be lucky and do win on hunches, too many passive players consistently let impulse rule their responses.’
      • ‘Let's hope that Congress exercises some sensible judgement today and doesn't let emotion rule the day.’
      • ‘But one club is booming - a place where nostalgia rules and lager is the drug of choice.’
      • ‘Too often investors will let their emotions rule their investment decisions with disastrous results.’
      • ‘The ‘obsessional’ type, ruled by the super-ego, was ruled by fear of the naggings of conscience.’
      • ‘He knew what he was doing and he wasn't going to let anger rule him.’
      • ‘She knew letting the grief rule her would get her nowhere, but she didn't care.’
      • ‘But Amanda was tired of being ruled by her fear and guilt.’
      • ‘After a brief, initial fascination, the town quickly turns against the boy, and hysteria rules the day.’
      • ‘The man was a rock, and never let his emotions rule what he said or how he acted or reacted.’
      • ‘I felt that the entire environment at the university was ruled by fear and intimidation by the faculty, and some of the professors were very unkind to people like me who were struggling to keep up.’
      • ‘I always seemed to let my emotions rule me and I couldn't follow my heart this time, because for once I didn't know what my heart wanted.’
    2. 1.2no object Be a dominant or powerful factor.
      with complement ‘the black market rules supreme’
      • ‘Fauvism was the first movement of this modern period, in which color ruled supreme.’
      • ‘The end of the twentieth century, with the collapse of the Stalinist states, seemed to usher in an era where democracy would rule supreme.’
      • ‘Dealing with gay life in Parisian society as no work before or since has ever done, A la Recherche laid bare a world in which sexual fluidity ruled supreme.’
      • ‘In this film, death rules supreme, with the plot simply tracing an endless cycle of annihilation, utterly unredeemed by any intent or outcome.’
      • ‘In the days when horse power ruled supreme on farms, the powerful Shire breed was the usual one in South Westmorland and North Lancashire.’
      • ‘National Hunt racing rules supreme in this country.’
      • ‘A little further uptown is Lesbomonde, where the ladies rule supreme.’
      • ‘The Springboks continue to rule supreme as the world's rugby champions.’
      • ‘Terror becomes total when it becomes independent of all opposition; it rules supreme when nobody any longer stands in its way.’
      • ‘Even in India, its birthplace, where it has been ruling supreme for the last 3,000 years, it has not been able to permeate the masses.’
      • ‘But if the market ruled supreme in theory during the 1980s and 1990s, reality was different.’
      • ‘However, in Sligo it would appear the pedestrians rule supreme.’
      • ‘He excelled in an era when the manager ruled totally.’
      • ‘In Boston, for example, where German romanticism ruled supreme, German immigration remained at bay.’
      • ‘Under prohibition, drugs are controlled by the law of the jungle in which some of the worst criminals on the face of the earth rule supreme.’
      • ‘League leaders Warton dropped their first points of the season thanks to rain ruling supreme on Saturday.’
      • ‘What does an honorable man do in times when dishonor rules supreme?’
      • ‘But if you visit The Venue on other than a weekend night, when music rules supreme, you will find though that there is more to this pub than just music.’
      • ‘In particular, the logic of the gold mines seemed to rule supreme.’
      • ‘The libidinal spirit of fun rules supreme in these small acrylic canvasses.’
      prevail, obtain, be the order of the day, predominate, hold sway, be supreme
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    3. 1.3informal no object Be very good or the best.
      ‘Jackie tells me about Hanna's newest band, and says that it absolutely rules’
      • ‘This film rules! It has the coolest zombies I have ever seen!’
      • ‘This band rules, but it's a good prediction that the vocalist will ruin it.’
    4. 1.4Astrology (of a planet) have a particular influence over (a sign of the zodiac, house, etc.)
      ‘the tenth House, ruled by Saturn and associated with Capricorn’
      • ‘Mars rules both Aries and Scorpio, but in Aries, its diurnal rulership, its energies are expressed more openly and directly.’
      • ‘The first sign in the Zodiac, you're ruled by Mars, the action planet, and are a natural leader and innovator.’
      • ‘This combination is often regarded as slightly cold and mechanical to the warmer signs of the Zodiac; those born into Sun or Moon signs ruled by fire.’
      • ‘Aries and Scorpio were ruled by the same planet, which was Mars, the war-god of passion, activity, and courage.’
      • ‘The moon rules my sign, maybe this is why I'm a night owl.’
  • 2with clause Pronounce authoritatively and legally to be the case.

    ‘an industrial tribunal ruled that he was unfairly dismissed from his job’
    • ‘A state appellate court ruled that federal law pre-empted the state claims.’
    • ‘Contrary to submissions made by the plaintiff, I rule that the defendants are parties to the action.’
    • ‘Richards has since stated that he would hold his hand on appointing the tribunal until the courts ruled on the judicial review motion.’
    • ‘In February 2000 a High Court judge ruled that Johnson was insane and incapable of deciding to end his life.’
    • ‘By majority opinion the appeal court judges ruled that wire tapping prohibitions apply to messages in temporary storage because this stage is integral to the communications process.’
    • ‘After putting certain further questions to the appellant, the judge ruled that he had waived privilege.’
    • ‘In a case decided in 1950 the Brussels Court Martial had already ruled that torture in time of armed conflict was prohibited by a customary international law rule.’
    • ‘The trial judge ruled that contributory negligence was not a defence to the claims in negligent misrepresentation and fraud and excluded this evidence.’
    • ‘A burglar whose release from jail was delayed for 21 days after he tested positive for drugs is taking his battle to the court of appeal after a High Court judge ruled that the penalty should stand.’
    • ‘The appeal court upheld the High Court judge's ruling that the benefits of vaccination outweighed the risks.’
    • ‘However, the judge ruled that the jury should be discharged and so it was.’
    • ‘The court ruled that the detainees were legally analogous to German prisoners captured on the battlefield in World War II.’
    • ‘But he ruled that the High Court order breached the principle of the separation of powers and would unduly restrict the Government in developing child care policy.’
    • ‘The magistrates' court ruled that it had no power to determine whether Mr Ferris had been liable to pay child support maintenance.’
    • ‘Earlier this month, the United States Supreme Court ruled that federal drug laws trump policies in ten states that permit medicinal marijuana use.’
    • ‘Lewis and Cox were both in the courtroom when the court ruled that each state district had to have roughly the same number of people.’
    • ‘The plaintiff succeeded at trial, but the Court of Appeal ruled that the judge had erred in leaving the case to the jury.’
    • ‘In 1996, a federal district court ruled that such inequities do exist.’
    • ‘Nearly simultaneously, however, a federal district court ruled that an Ohio city could be sued for discriminatory effects.’
    • ‘On April 26, the Tokyo District Court ruled that the plaintiffs' rights of freedom of religion have not been violated by the visits.’
    decree, order, direct, pronounce, make a judgement, judge, adjudge, adjudicate, lay down, ordain
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  • 3with object Make parallel lines across (paper)

    ‘rule the pages horizontally and print the information within the rules’
    • ‘Robin got a map from the Land Office with a lot of lines ruled on it, from which the position of our holding could be deduced.’
    • ‘A workhorse of a machine was busy feeding a swath of yellow paper from one of these rolls, mechanically ruling the paper with calibrated pins dipped in blue ink.’
    • ‘Written on ruled paper, the letter was found in a pile of papers at the Greens's home in Gloucestershire.’
    ruled, feint
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  • 4no object, with adverbial (of a price or a traded commodity with regard to its price) have a specified general level or strength.

    ‘in the jutes section Indus and Pak Jute ruled firm’
    • ‘On July 15, 1874, at the Ackley House stables, Mr. John Waddle offered twelve cows and one bull at public auction, but prices ruled so low that they were soon withdrawn from market.’
    • ‘The cherry crop was immense, and despite the abundance of this fruit the prices ruled high.’
    • ‘Ten years ago, interest rates ruled very high and therefore it did not require any great financial acumen for investing.’
    • ‘In difficult years, when the crop fell short of expectations and market prices ruled high, the majority of consumers in this poor country were unable to afford the market price prevailing for essential foodgrains.’
    • ‘There were large numbers of horses of various kinds at the Stow-on-the-Wold October Fair, but very little trade, prices ruling low.’


  • as a rule

    • Usually, but not always.

      ‘any architect knows that, as a rule, old buildings are more soundly built than new ones’
      • ‘As I've said above, I've been surprised to learn how poorly paid title designers are as a rule.’
      • ‘Action thrillers contain lots of twists and turns as a rule, usually of a kind we have all seen a dozen times before.’
      • ‘Ellen had always taken a direct approach with her brother, and as a rule there were no secrets between them.’
      • ‘Most men wear pleated trousers, which as a rule, should always have cuffs.’
      • ‘Once a week, as a rule, usually on Sunday, a ship's company was ordered to assemble into their divisions.’
      • ‘Generally, as a rule, it is best to take your herb tea one hour before eating, on an empty stomach.’
      • ‘Young people, as a rule, prefer novelty to conventions, breaking fresh ground to following the beaten track.’
      • ‘One member commented that, as a rule, trippers were a nuisance - they thought they could do as they pleased and go wherever they liked.’
      • ‘Again, Aristotle's notion of the goal of tragedy is odd: do tragedies always, or even as a rule, purge their audience of pity and fear?’
      • ‘The landscapes, as a rule, were depicted as unpeopled, pristine environments.’
      usually, generally, in general, normally, ordinarily, customarily, almost always, for the most part, on the whole, by and large, in the main, mainly, mostly, more often than not, commonly, typically, on average, in most cases
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  • by rule

    • In a regular manner according to a particular set of rules.

      ‘stress is not predictable by rule and must be learned word by word’
      • ‘This base map will develop into a heritage master plan, which will be preserved by rule.’
      • ‘Life is like music, it must be composed by ear, feeling, instinct, not by rule.’
      • ‘The interval lasted about ten minutes longer than the quarter-hour allowed by rule, courtesy of a late return to the field by Kerry.’
      • ‘Edwards came from the back of the pack, where by rule he had been sent following a pre-race engine change, and outdueled veteran Ted Musgrave for the win.’
      • ‘Also, remember that, by rule, a wild card can't play a team from its division in the first round.’
      • ‘The Director of Transportation, by rule, may provide for issuance of a valid license without a photograph if the applicant shows good cause.’
      • ‘Athena in Colaba is among the few clubs which by rule do not allow those under 21.’
      • ‘Is the phenomenon confined to the diocesan or secular clergy or has it also touched the regulars, men who live by rule and vow?’
      • ‘Anything constructed by rule will probably have too much order in it.’
      • ‘Even better, it gives a way to help memorize them, by allowing one to work out the answer by rule if one cannot remember it by rote.’
  • make it a rule to do something

    • Have it as a habit or general principle to do something.

      ‘I make it a rule never to mix business with pleasure’
      • ‘Even though my firm is operating in an unregulated environment, I have always made it a rule to present clients with clear illustrations of the effects of charges on their proposed investment vehicles.’
      • ‘Coming from a big family meant she enjoyed the customers and, like Henry, made it a rule to treat everyone the same.’
      • ‘Former prime ministers had made it a rule to visit the shrine during the shrine's festival in spring, or sometime in autumn, or on Aug 15.’
      • ‘I've now made it a rule to take care of at least one niggling work-related task each day.’
      • ‘Ever since then I have made it a rule to remember his words and the training goal they represent whenever I practice.’
      • ‘Asked if he ever stopped, he answered that he and Ljubica tried to make it a rule to do so by ten o'clock at night, having begun more than twelve hours before.’
      • ‘I made it a rule to put down in writing, after every conversation, what had taken place.’
      • ‘He had never been to this place before, always made it a rule to stay away.’
      • ‘About five days ago, Jacob made it a rule to get back into shape.’
      • ‘I make it a rule to ignore goofy self-help gurus proffering their brand of cheese or fish or whatever.’
  • the rules of the game

    • A set of conventions or principles governing behaviour in a particular sphere.

      ‘the economic crisis changed the rules of the game’
      • ‘Forward-thinking start-ups materialize and change the rules of the game almost overnight.’
      • ‘I think he would have regarded any such appeal by a philosopher in a philosophical work as a breach of the rules of the game.’
      • ‘They determined that they now must change the rules of the game through electoral reform.’
      • ‘The new government simply believes globalisation is an irresistible force that cannot be beaten, so the best it can do is play by the rules of the game.’
      • ‘We have always observed the rules of the game between senior and junior ranks.’
  • rule of law

    • The restriction of the arbitrary exercise of power by subordinating it to well-defined and established laws.

      ‘when military dictators fall, the democrats who follow them must try to restore the rule of law’
      • ‘It will entrench and help spread democracy, the rule of law and human rights.’
      • ‘You can't have a notion of the rule of law and not have access to judicial review.’
      • ‘The Council also affirms the need for respect for human rights and the rule of law.’
      • ‘What has happened to the concept of the rule of law, due process and the presumption of innocence?’
      • ‘It is a fundamental requisite of the rule of law that the law should be made known.’
      • ‘In the absence of the rule of law, restraint and legitimate redress for unfair practice were also absent.’
      • ‘Citizen investigation or citizen arrest is an important part of a society under rule of law.’
      • ‘The Prime Minister overrides the rule of law and declares a coroner's enquiry unnecessary.’
      • ‘If tribunals were to be at liberty to exceed their jurisdiction without any check by the courts, the rule of law would be at an end.’
      • ‘That decision demonstrated that this country upholds the rule of law and basic human rights.’
  • rule of thumb

    • A broadly accurate guide or principle, based on practice rather than theory.

      ‘a useful rule of thumb is that about ten hours will be needed to analyse each hour of recorded data’
      • ‘Observation of individuals shows that people are much more likely to use rules of thumb when making complex decisions.’
      • ‘The general rules of thumb for a good private detective, Eddie said, are to be able to blend in, to act normally and be discreet.’
      • ‘As a rough rule of thumb, the best rates are available either over the internet or from some of the aggressive building societies.’
      • ‘This is a good rule of thumb, and the first principle we use in evaluating potential home remedies.’
      • ‘I want to suggest that this is in fact a rather useful rule of thumb for linguists and philologists.’
      • ‘As a rule of thumb, allow one houseplant per 100 square feet of living area.’
      • ‘A good rule of thumb would be to use colors based upon the type of effect you're trying to achieve.’
      • ‘A widely adopted rule of thumb in crystallisation theory is that better crystals can be obtained using programmed cooling.’
      • ‘Given that forecasts were so inaccurate, I thought it might be preferable to rely on projections based on simple rules of thumb.’
      • ‘The rule of thumb usually is to have three days of food and water and whatever essentials you might have.’
  • rule the roost

    • Be in complete control.

      ‘in this particular society men rule the roost and women have a low status and few rights’
      • ‘She was employed as a cook some years ago, but now she rules the roost.’
      • ‘Mickey is now recovering from his ordeal and is getting back to ruling the roost.’
      • ‘Before you know it we will be ruling the roost again.’
      • ‘It is the children who are ruling the roost, calling the shorts, setting conditions.’
      • ‘Doctors are in short supply in the interior areas, quacks are ruling the roost there.’
      • ‘Women don't need protection nowadays - they're the ones ruling the roost.’
      • ‘Rather than a progressive process that inevitably led to Homo sapiens ruling the roost, Gee persuades the reader that evolution is based upon a random selection.’
      • ‘Our democracy is crumbling with the politics of fear and prejudice ruling the roost, an electoral system which is corrupt and unrepresentative.’
      • ‘With soap operas ruling the roost, film industry in general has slowly begun to lose its ‘sheen’ among the masses.’
      • ‘With the water starting its autumnal cool down the maggot anglers are now ruling the roost as the fish move into deeper water.’
      be in charge of, run, be in control of, manage, direct, administer, head, preside over, have authority over, supervise, superintend, oversee, guide, steer
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  • run the rule over

    • Examine cursorily for correctness or adequacy.

      ‘he had the chance to run the rule over the Brazil team’
      • ‘Since the business went into administration, few concrete details about just who was running the rule over the bus company had leaked out.’
      • ‘The Stanley manager has been running the rule over his squad during their extensive pre-season fixtures in preparation for the big kick-off at Aldershot on Sunday.’
      • ‘With city analysts constantly running the rule over its operations and competitors moving operations offshore, there would be enormous pressure to cut jobs here.’
      • ‘It will also be an ideal opportunity for us to run the rule over him at senior level before next season.’
      • ‘But after running the rule over the club's playing squad in pre-season, he's liked what he's seen and can't wait for the first whistle at Swansea tomorrow.’
      • ‘Emily Bell runs the rule over who should be the new chairman of the BBC’
      • ‘After some big surprises in the nominations, Jessica Winter runs the rule over this year's hopefuls’
      • ‘After that, it's time for an Arts Council review, with a British theatre director expected to be appointed to run the rule over the Abbey.’
      • ‘Barrow is also targeting an experienced striker, a left-sided player and will be running the rule over a number of trialists once the players are back in training on July 4.’
      • ‘York City manager Terry Dolan took an additional chance to run the rule over his new charges this afternoon.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • rule something out (or in)

    • Exclude (or include) something as a possibility.

      ‘the prime minister ruled out a November election’
      • ‘I don't rule the possibility out, but tend to think it is unlikely.’
      • ‘At the time of writing it would be only a daylight facility, but lighting the bays, and possibly the range has not been ruled out.’
      • ‘It is possible to develop an allergy to a product you've been using for years, so don't rule this possibility out.’
      • ‘But the possibility that life could originate on the ocean surface has not been ruled out.’
      • ‘Although the specific locus of task-set inhibition is not yet clear from the available evidence, three possibilities can be ruled out.’
      • ‘After other possible causes of the child's symptoms are ruled out, the doctor may recommend an elimination diet to help diagnose and identify a food allergy.’
      • ‘Something in her voice sounded as if she hadn't ruled the possibility out.’
      • ‘The judge said that he thought this unlikely, although he could not rule it out as a possibility.’
      • ‘Your doctor must rule them out before being certain you have asthma.’
      • ‘There have been a number of dog thefts in recent months and while we are not linking them specifically we don't rule this possibility out.’
      • ‘Although separation would not take place at this stage, it had not been ruled out as a possibility should the twins defy the odds and survive, he added.’
      • ‘While the priority at present is to rent the property at £l,500 per month, the possibility of a sale has not been ruled out and the price can be negotiated.’
      • ‘The strain of her illness was made almost unbearable when Kevin and Tina found out that they had been ruled out as possible donors.’
      • ‘However, he would not rule it out as a future possibility.’
      • ‘It could have been that she was model, but most people ruled that possibility out.’
      • ‘And therefore a possibility of that exists, certainly, one wouldn't rule it out.’
      • ‘Possible sightings have been ruled out and equipment which can be used to detect if earth has been recently disturbed has found nothing.’
      • ‘They are happy as long as I give it a try, give it my best before absolutely ruling it out as a possibility.’
      • ‘Once physical causes are ruled out, your doctor may refer you to a mental-health professional who specializes in treating anxiety disorders.’
      • ‘Since phlebotomy and technical errors were ruled out, the possibility existed that the mother had developed an antibody to a paternal antigen that she did not possess which was inherited by each twin.’
      exclude, eliminate, reject, dismiss, disregard
      View synonyms


Middle English: from Old French reule (noun), reuler (verb), from late Latin regulare, from Latin regula ‘straight stick’.