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

n rule of personal conduct

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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

n a doctrine that is taught

“he believed all the Christian precepts
commandment, teaching
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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