rubric

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ru·bric / ˈroōbrik/ • n. a heading on a document. ∎  a direction in a liturgical book as to how a church service should be conducted. ∎  a statement of purpose or function: art of a purpose, not for its own sake, was his rubric. ∎  a category: party policies on matters falling under the rubric of law and order. DERIVATIVES: ru·bri·cal adj. ORIGIN: late Middle English rubrish (originally referring to a heading, section of text, etc., written in red for distinctiveness), from Old French rubriche, from Latin rubrica (terra) ‘red (earth or ocher as writing material),’ from the base of rubeus ‘red’; the later spelling is influenced by the Latin form.

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rubric a heading on a document; in particular, a direction in a liturgical book as to how a church service should be conducted. The word (in late Middle English in form rubrish) originally refers to a heading or section of text written in red for distinctiveness (see also red letter day); it comes via Old French from Latin rubrica (terra) ‘red (earth or ochre as writing material)’, from the base of rubeus ‘red’.

From the mid 19th century, the word was used for a descriptive heading or designation, and then for a set of instructions on an examination paper.

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rubric
A. †red earth, ruddle XV;

B. direction (in red) for the conduct of divine service XIV; heading of a division of a book, etc. XV. Rare before XVII, rubriche, -ishe being the usual form XIV–XVI. — OF. rubric(h)e, beside rubrique, or its source L. rubrīca red earth, title of a law, law itself (written with red ochre), sb. use of adj. f. ruber RED.

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Rubric (Lat., ‘red’). A directive in printed forms of Christian liturgy. The name derives from the fact that these instructions and guides were printed in red in the Missal, to distinguish them from the text of the liturgy.