American English

Definition of rule noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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    of activity/game
  1. 1[countable] a statement of what may, must, or must not be done in a particular situation or when playing a game to follow/obey/observe the rules It's against all rules and regulations. to break a rule (= not follow it) This explains the rules under which the library operates. Without unwritten rules civilized life would be impossible. Normal competition rules apply. She laid down strict rules for her tenants including prompt payment of rent. see also ground rules
  2. advice
  3. 2[countable] a statement of what you are advised to do in a particular situation There are no hard and fast rules for planning healthy meals. The first rule is to make eye contact with your interviewer. see also golden rule
  4. habit/normally true
  5. 3[countable, usually singular] a habit; the normal state of things; what is true in most cases He makes it a rule never to borrow money. I go to bed early as a rule. Cold winters here are the exception rather than the rule (= are rare). As a general rule, vegetable oils are better for you than animal fats.
  6. of system
  7. 4[countable] a statement of what is possible according to a particular system, for example the grammar of a language the rules of grammar
  8. government/control
  9. 5[uncountable] the government of a country or control of a group of people by a particular person, group, or system under Communist/civilian/military, etc. rule majority rule (= government by the political party that most people have voted for) The Ottoman empire imposed direct rule from Tripoli. see also home rule
  10. measuring tool
  11. 6[countable] a measuring instrument with a straight edge see also slide rule
  12. Idioms
    bend/stretch the rules
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    to change the rules to suit a particular person or situation
    play by somebody's (own) rules
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    if someone plays by their own rules or makes other people play by their rules, they set the conditions for doing business or having a relationship
    play by the rules
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    to deal fairly and honestly with people
    the rule of law
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    the condition in which all members of society, including its rulers, accept the authority of the law Democracy and the rule of law are yet to be firmly established in the country.
    a rule of thumb
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    a practical method of doing or measuring something, usually based on past experience rather than on exact measurement As a rule of thumb, you should cook a chicken for 20 minutes for each pound of weight.
    the rules of the game
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    the standards of behavior that most people accept or that actually operate in a particular area of life or business
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: rule