1580s, "medical prescription, a formula for the composing of a remedy written by a physician," from French récipé (15c.), from Latin recipe "take!" (this or that ingredient), second person imperative singular of recipere "to hold, contain" (see receive). It was the word written by physicians at the head of prescriptions. Figurative meaning "a prescribed formula" is from 1640s. Meaning "instructions for preparing a particular food" is recorded by 1716. The older sense in English survives chiefly in the pharmacist's abbreviation Rx. Compare receipt.