Definition of rule noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ruːl//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ruːl//
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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 rule
  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 1972 act imposed direct rule from Westminster. Wordfinderallow, emancipation, freedom, imprisonment, independence, liberty, oppress, restriction, rule, slave see also home rule
  10. measuring tool
  11. 6 [countable] a measuring instrument with a straight edge see also slide rule
  12. Word OriginMiddle English: from Old French reule (noun), reuler (verb), from late Latin regulare, from Latin regula ‘straight stick’.Extra examples Among her friends, casual dress and a relaxed manner are the rule. As a rule, hardly anybody uses this road. Couldn’t they just bend the rules and let us in without a ticket? Employees are bound by rules of confidentiality. Follow these few simple rules, and you won’t go far wrong. He made his children’s lives a misery with all his petty rules. I believed I was acting within the rules. If he wanted a loan he would have to play by the bank’s rules. New accounting rules come into force next year. Several proposed rule changes have been announced. Tackling a player without the ball is against the rules. The Internet has changed the rules of business. The aim is to get each member country to adhere to a single set of rules. The competition rules provide that a cash alternative may be given. The country remained under direct rule by the occupying powers. The existing rules allow for some flexibility. The music was turned off at midnight, in accordance with the rules. The officials went strictly by the rule book. The packaging does not conform to EU rules. The president imposed emergency rule following the riots. The punishment depends on how the umpire interprets the rules. The referee applied the rules to the letter. The rules keep changing. The rules of dating have had to be rewritten, thanks to the movies. The rules on claiming have been tightened up. The rules were drawn up to make it fair for everyone. The sport has strict rules for player safety. Their action was in breach of Stock Exchange rules. There are few exceptions to the general rule that bars close at midnight. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to choosing a typeface. There seems to be one rule for the rich and another for the poor. Under this rule, only full members of the club are entitled to vote. What are the school rules about dress? What is the rule for forming plurals? You and your flatmates should establish some ground rules. You don’t make the rules, you know. You should know the rules by now. a society based on the rule of law behaviour which is outside the rules federal rules on campaign fund-raising rules limiting imports the lawless days of mob rule the rules governing the importing of livestock the traditional rules of grammar Communist/​military rule He occasionally allowed himself to break his own rule. He was punished for breaking school rules. He’s a writer who doesn’t seem to know the most basic rules of English grammar. I make it a rule never to mix business with pleasure. I’ve made it a rule not to talk to the press. It was an unspoken rule in my family that my mother was always right. It’s one of my rules not to get into debt. Potatoes at the front of the stall and fruit at the back—that was his golden rule. She laid down strict rules for her tenants including prompt payment of rent. The first rule of interviews is to make eye contact with the interviewer. The golden rule of teaching is to remember that all children learn at different rates. There are no hard and fast rules for planning healthy meals. There are several exceptions to the rule ‘i” before “e” except after “c’. There was a gradual process of returning the country to civilian rule. Without unwritten rules civilized life would be impossible. a return to civilian/​democratic/​majority rule colonial/​British/​Ottoman ruleIdioms to change the rules to suit a particular person or situation
    the exception that proves the rule
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    (saying) people say that something is the exception that proves the rule when they are stating something that seems to be different from the normal situation, but they mean that the normal situation remains true in general Most electronics companies have not done well this year, but ours is the exception that proves the rule.
    play by somebody’s (own) rules
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    if somebody plays by their own rules or makes other people play by their rules, they set the conditions for doing business or having a relationship
    to deal fairly and honestly with people 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 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 standards of behaviour that most people accept or that actually operate in a particular area of life or business to follow the rules of your job in a very strict way in order to cause delay, as a form of protest against your employer or your working conditions see also work-to-rule
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: rule