1 what you can or cannot do, say, etc.
basic, cardinal, first, fundamental, golden
ground rules

You and your room-mates should establish some ground rules.

formal, official, written
informal, unspoken, unwritten
old, traditional

the traditional rules of grammar

current, existing
rigid, strict, stringent
absolute, hard and fast

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to choosing a typeface.


Follow these few simple rules, and you won't go far wrong.

petty (esp. BrE)

He made his children's lives a misery with all his petty rules.

club, company, competition, house, school, union, etc.
federal, global, international

federal rules on campaign fund-raising

cultural, ethical, legal, moral, social
accounting, disciplinary, immigration, privacy (esp. AmE), safety, tax
grammar, grammatical

The aim is to get each member country to adhere to a single set of rules.

create, develop, draw up, establish, formulate, impose, issue, lay down, make, set out, write

The rules were drawn up to make it fair for everyone.

You don't make the rules, you know.

abide by, accept, adhere to, follow, go by, obey, observe, play by, stick to

If he wanted a loan he would have to play by the bank's rules.

be in line with, conform to

The packaging does not conform to EU rules.


The sport has strict rules for player safety.

be in breach of, break, disregard, fall foul of (BrE), flout, ignore, violate

Their action was in breach of Stock Exchange rules.

apply, enforce

The referee applied the rules to the letter (= very strictly).

adopt, use
bend, relax

Couldn't they just bend the rules and let us in without a ticket?

tighten up

The rules on claiming have been tightened up.

change, rewrite

The Internet has changed the rules of business.

The rules of dating have had to be rewritten, thanks to the movies.

be bound by, be governed by

Employees are bound by rules of confidentiality.

know, learn, remember

You should know the rules by now.

interpret, understand

The punishment depends on how the umpire interprets the rules.

apply, be applicable, operate
come into effect, come into force

New accounting rules come into force next year.

dictate sth, provide sth (formal), require sth, say sth, state sth, stipulate sth

The competition rules provide that a cash alternative may be given.

govern sth

the rules governing the importing of livestock

allow sth, allow for sth, permit sth

The existing rules allow for some flexibility.

forbid sth, prevent sth, prohibit sth
limit sth, restrict sth

rules limiting imports


The rules keep changing.


The officials went strictly by the rule book.


Several proposed rule changes have been announced.

according to the rules

According to the rules, no alcohol can be consumed on the premises.

against the rules, contrary to the rules

Tackling a player without the ball is against the rules.

in accordance with the rules

The music was turned off at midnight, in accordance with the rules.

outside the rules

conduct which is outside the rules

under a/the rule

Under this rule, only full members of the club are entitled to vote.

within the rules

I believed I was acting within the rules.

rule about, rule concerning, rule on, rule regarding, rule relating to

What are the school rules about dress?

rule for

There seems to be one rule for the rich and another for the poor.

What is the rule for forming plurals?

rule of

the rules of the game

a breach of the rules, a violation of the rules
a body of rules, a code of rules, a system of rules
respect for the rules
rules and regulations
rule of thumb (= a practical method of doing or measuring sth)
2 what is usual

There are few exceptions to the general rule that bars close at midnight.

as a rule

As a rule, hardly anybody uses this road.

be the rule

Among her friends, casual dress and a relaxed manner are the rule.

3 government
authoritarian, harsh
direct, indirect

The president imposed emergency rule following the riots.

Communist, Labour, Republican, etc.
colonial, imperial
civilian, military
constitutional, democratic

the lawless days of mob rule

under … rule

The country remained under direct rule by the occupying powers.

the rule of law

a society based on the rule of law


the president's powers to rule by decree


He left his son to rule over Saragossa.

rule supreme
rule with an iron fist, rule with an iron hand, rule with a rod of iron (esp. BrE) (= control a person or group of people very severely)
rule sth out
altogether, categorically, completely, definitely (esp. BrE), entirely, totally

This theory cannot be ruled out altogether.

virtually (esp. BrE)

His age effectively ruled him out as a possible candidate.


Infringement of this regulation would automatically rule you out of the championship.

previously (esp. BrE)
cannot, refuse to

We cannot rule out the possibility of a recession.


Police have now ruled her out as the killer.

Rule is used with these nouns as the subject: ↑chaos, ↑court, ↑dynasty, ↑enquiry, ↑judge, ↑king, ↑lord, ↑magistrate, ↑monarch, ↑panel, ↑queen, ↑regime, ↑tribunal, ↑tyrant
Rule is used with these nouns as the object: ↑country, ↑earth, ↑empire, ↑kingdom, ↑land, ↑territory, ↑world

Collocations dictionary. 2013.

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