Meaning of RULE in English


I. rule 1 S1 W1 /ruːl/ BrE AmE noun

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ rule , ↑ ruler , ↑ ruling , ↑ unruliness ; adjective : ↑ ruling , ↑ unruly , ↑ ruled ; verb : ↑ rule , ↑ overrule ]

[ Date: 1200-1300 ; Language: Old French ; Origin: reule , from Latin regula ; ⇨ ↑ regular 1 ]

1 . ABOUT WHAT IS ALLOWED [countable] an official instruction that says how things must be done or what is allowed, especially in a game, organization, or job

rule of

the rules of the game

under the rules/according to the rules

Under the rules, the company must publish its annual accounts.

2 . ABOUT WHAT YOU SHOULD DO [countable] what you should do in a particular situation, or a statement about this:

There are no hard and fast rules (=clear and definite rules) about what to wear to classes.

rule of

There are two basic rules of survival.

The rule is: if you feel any pain you should stop exercising immediately.

3 . NORMAL/USUAL [singular] something that is normal or usually true

as a (general) rule

As a general rule most students finish their coursework by the end of May.

Early marriage used to be the rule in that part of the world.

A series of payments used to be the exception rather than the rule.

Unfortunately there is an exception to every rule.

4 . GOVERNMENT [uncountable] the government of a country or area by a particular group of people or using a particular system

under ... rule

people living under communist rule

the end of colonial rule

a period of military rule

direct rule from Westminster

the restoration of majority rule (=government by the party that most people have voted for) to Northern Ireland

5 . IN GRAMMAR/SCIENCE ETC [countable] a statement about what is usually allowed in a particular system, such as the grammar of a language, or a science

rule of

the rules of English punctuation

6 . the rule of law a situation in which the laws of a country are obeyed:

We are here to uphold the rule of law.

7 . the rules of natural justice what people believe to be right and fair:

The governor failed to observe the rules of natural justice.

8 . rule of thumb a rough figure or method of calculation, based on practical experience:

As a general rule of thumb, children this age should not spend more than one hour on homework.

9 . make it a rule (to do something) to try to make sure that you always do something:

I make it a rule never to mix business with pleasure.

10 . FOR MEASURING [countable] old-fashioned a ↑ ruler

⇨ ↑ golden rule , ↑ ground rules , ↑ home rule , ↑ slide rule , ⇨ work to rule at ↑ work 1 (32)

• • •


■ verbs

▪ break a rule ( also violate a rule formal ) (=not obey it)

He had clearly broken the official rules.


Any one who violates this rule will be severely punished.

▪ obey/follow a rule

She wasn’t going to obey their silly rules.

▪ comply with/abide by/observe a rule formal (=obey it)

All members must comply with the rules of the organization.


There is little that one country can do if another fails to abide by the rules.


We expect you to observe the general rules of conduct as set out below.

▪ stick to/go by the rules informal (=obey them)

We all have to stick to the rules.

▪ make the rules

I’m only an assistant manager – I don’t make the rules.

▪ the rule says ...

The rule says that you must be standing inside the line.

▪ the rule stipulates that ... formal (=it says that something must be done)

The rules stipulate that clubs must field the strongest team available.

▪ the rule prohibits/forbids something

The rule forbids women from becoming members of the club.

▪ the rule requires (that) ... formal (=it says that people must do something)

School rules required all girls to tie back their hair.

▪ the rule applies to somebody/something (=it concerns them)

Everyone thinks that the rule doesn’t apply to them.

▪ play by the rules (=do what is expected and agreed)

The system works well enough — as long as everyone plays by the rules.

▪ bend/stretch the rules (=allow someone to do something that is not normally allowed)

They bend the rules to suit themselves.

▪ relax the rules (=make them less strict)

Britain relaxed its immigration rules.

▪ tighten (up) the rules (=make them stricter)

The EU has tightened the rules on the quality of drinking water.

▪ enforce a rule (=make sure that it is obeyed)

The planning office does not always enforce its own rules.

▪ flout a rule (=break it, without trying to hide what you are doing)

The party continues to flout its own rules.

▪ be bound by rules (=have to obey them)

Solicitors are bound by strict rules that regulate their professional conduct.


▪ strict

They have very strict rules about gambling.

▪ simple

The rules of the game are quite simple.

▪ petty (=unreasonable rules about unimportant things)

There are hundreds of petty rules.

▪ a school/prison/club etc rule

He had broken one of the school rules.

▪ an unwritten rule (=a rule of behaviour that everyone in a group understands)

There’s an unwritten rule that you never call an actor before 10 a.m.

▪ health and safety rules

You should follow any health and safety rules which apply to your workplace.

■ phrases

▪ be against the rules (=not be allowed)

It was against the rules to talk in class.

▪ the rules concerning/governing/relating to something formal (=the rules about something)

the rules governing food labeling

▪ a change in the rules

I didn’t realise that there had been a change in the rules.

▪ a breach of the rules formal (=something that is against the rules)

a serious breach of the rules

▪ rules and regulations

The government keeps introducing more and more rules and regulations.

▪ rules are rules spoken (=a rule must be obeyed)

Rules are rules and you have to abide by them.

• • •


▪ rule an instruction that says what people are allowed to do or not allowed to do, for example in a game, school, or company:

the rules of baseball


He disobeyed the school rules.

▪ law an official rule that everyone in a country, city, or state must obey:

It is against the law to carry a concealed weapon.


The law requires motorcyclists to wear helmets.

▪ regulation an official rule or order, which is part of a set of rules made by a government or organization:

the regulations for applying for a passport


building regulations


environmental regulations on air pollution

▪ restriction an official rule that limits what people can do:

new restrictions on immigration


The government is planning to impose regulations on the amount of alcohol you can bring into the country.

▪ guidelines rules or instructions about the best way to do something:

the Department of Health’s guidelines for a healthy diet


guidelines for classroom teachers

▪ code a set of rules that people or organizations agree to obey but are not forced to obey:

The school has a dress code for its students.


the company’s code of conduct

▪ statute formal a law that has been officially approved by a parliament, council etc, and written down:

The statute banned corporal punishment.

▪ ordinance American English a law, made by a city or town, that forbids or restricts an activity:

A local ordinance limited speed in the parks to ten miles an hour.

II. rule 2 W2 BrE AmE verb

[ Word Family: noun : ↑ rule , ↑ ruler , ↑ ruling , ↑ unruliness ; adjective : ↑ ruling , ↑ unruly , ↑ ruled ; verb : ↑ rule , ↑ overrule ]

1 . GOVERNMENT [intransitive and transitive] to have the official power to control a country and the people who live there ⇨ govern :

Queen Victoria ruled England for 64 years.

African tribal societies were traditionally ruled by a council of elders.

rule over

Alexander the Great ruled over a huge empire.

He announced that henceforth he would rule by decree (=make all the important decisions himself) .

2 . CONTROL/INFLUENCE [transitive] if a feeling or desire rules someone, it has a powerful and controlling influence on their actions:

the passion for power and success which rules her life

3 . COURT/LAW [intransitive always + adverb/preposition, transitive] to make an official decision about something, especially a legal problem ⇨ decree

rule that

The judge ruled that she should have custody of the children.

rule on

The Supreme Court has yet to rule on the case.

rule in favour of/against somebody/something

The tribunal ruled in her favour.

be ruled illegal/unlawful etc

This part of the bill was ruled unconstitutional.

⇨ ↑ ruling 1

4 . rule the roost informal to be the most powerful person in a group:

His wife rules the roost in their house.

5 . rule somebody/something with a rod of iron also rule somebody with an iron fist/hand to control a group of people in a very severe way:

Although he was a fair man, he ruled us with an iron fist.

6 . somebody/something rules informal used to say that the team, school, place etc mentioned is better than any other:

Arsenal rules OK. British English

graffiti saying ‘Poheny High rules’

7 . DRAW A LINE [transitive] to draw a line using a ruler or other straight edge:

Rule a line under each answer.

⇨ ↑ overrule , ⇨ let your heart rule your head at ↑ heart (2)

• • •


▪ control to have power over a country, place, company etc, and decide what happens there:

The Democrats controlled the US Congress.


Government forces now control the city.

▪ run to make the important everyday decisions concerning a company, organization, country etc, so that it can continue to operate:

He runs a software company in New York.


The parents want to run the school themselves.


The government is unfit to run the country.


The charity runs a medical clinic in one of the poorest parts of the city.

▪ be in charge of somebody/something to have control over something, or responsibility for a group of people:

She is in charge of training new employees.


I left him in charge of the children while I was out.

▪ manage to be in charge of a company, especially one that someone else owns:

In 1963, she opened a furniture store, and her son has managed it since 1985.

▪ be in power if a group or leader is in power, they have political control of a country:

Abe resigned after less than a year in power.


It was the first time a democratically elected government had been in power.

▪ rule if a leader or political group rules a country, they have political control of that country:

President Assad ruled the country for almost 30 years.


The same party has ruled Japan for many years.

▪ supervise to be in charge of a group of workers or students and make sure that they do their work properly:

Professor Braude supervised the research team.


He’s supervising the building work.

rule something/somebody ↔ out phrasal verb

1 . to decide that something is not possible or suitable:

The police have ruled out suicide.

She has refused to rule out the possibility of singing again.

2 . to make it impossible for something to happen:

The mountainous terrain rules out most forms of agriculture.

3 . to state that someone will not be able to take part in a sports event

rule something/somebody ↔ out of

He has been ruled out of the match with a knee injury.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.