Definition: Doctrine

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From Middle English, from Old French, from Latin doctrina (teaching, instruction, learning, knowledge), from doctor (a teacher), from docere (to teach), same root as doctor.


doctrine (countable and uncountable, plural doctrines)

  1. A belief or tenet, especially about philosophical or theological matters.
    The Incarnation is a basic doctrine of Christianity.
    The Four Noble Truths summarize the main doctrines of Buddhism.
  2. The body of teachings of an ideology, most often a religion, or of an ideological or religious leader, organization, group, or text.
    What is the understanding of marriage and family in orthodox Marxist doctrine?
  3. A self-imposed policy governing some aspect of a country's foreign relations, especially regarding what sort of behavior it will or will not tolerate from other countries.
    The Monroe Doctrine, the Brezhnev Doctrine, and the Negroponte Doctrine are three famous foreign relations doctrines.

Derived terms

  • abstention doctrine
  • Bell doctrine
  • castle doctrine
  • fairness doctrine
  • prosperity doctrine

Related terms

  • docent
  • docile
  • doctor
  • doctorate
  • doctrinaire
  • doctrinal
  • doctrinize
  • document
  • indoctrinate


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