A precept is a rule or direction, often with some religious basis, dictating a way you should act or behave.

Precepts are little life lessons that are usually passed down to children by authority figures such as parents, teachers, or religious figures. They are not as simple or practical as "eat your vegetables"; they tend to be more weighty and pretentious. In Hamlet, the character Polonius dished out a few choice precepts to his son Laertes: "neither a borrower nor a lender be" and "give every man thy ear, but few thy voice." Of course Laertes never lived long enough to benefit from Polonius's sage advice, since Hamlet offed him with his own poisoned blade.

Definitions of precept
  1. noun
    rule of personal conduct
    synonyms: principle
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    higher law
    a principle that takes precedent over the laws of society
    moral principle
    the principle that conduct should be moral
    hypothetical imperative
    a principle stating the action required to attain a desired goal
    caveat emptor
    a commercial principle that without a warranty the buyer takes upon himself the risk of quality
    categorical imperative
    the moral principle that behavior should be determined by duty
    type of:
    prescript, rule
    prescribed guide for conduct or action
  2. noun
    a doctrine that is taught
    “he believed all the Christian precepts
    synonyms: commandment, teaching
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    Golden Rule
    a command based on Jesus' words in the Sermon on the Mount
    mitsvah, mitzvah
    (Judaism) a precept or commandment of the Jewish law
    type of:
    doctrine, ism, philosophical system, philosophy, school of thought
    a belief (or system of beliefs) accepted as authoritative by some group or school
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