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verb con·trol \kən-ˈtrōl\

Simple Definition of control

  • : to direct the behavior of (a person or animal) : to cause (a person or animal) to do what you want

  • : to have power over (something)

  • : to direct the actions or function of (something) : to cause (something) to act or function in a certain way

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of control


  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 a archaic :  to check, test, or verify by evidence or experiments b :  to incorporate suitable controls in <a controlled experiment>

  3. 2 a :  to exercise restraining or directing influence over :  regulate b :  to have power over :  rule c :  to reduce the incidence or severity of especially to innocuous levels <control an insect population> <control a disease>

  4. intransitive verb
  5. :  to incorporate controls in an experiment or study —used with for <control for socioeconomic differences>

controllability play \-ˌtrō-lə-ˈbi-lə-tē\ noun
controllable play \-ˈtrō-lə-bəl\ adjective
controlment play \-ˈtrōl-mənt\ noun

Examples of control in a sentence

  1. The parents could not control their child.

  2. The police controlled the crowd.

  3. The small boy could not control the big dog.

  4. Her family controls the business.

  5. One country controls the whole island.

  6. The rebel army now controls nearly half the country.

  7. The lights on stage are controlled by this computer.

  8. She struggled to control the cart as it rolled before her down the steep, bumpy road.

  9. He controlled the volume by turning the radio's knob.

  10. A thermostat controls the room's temperature.

Origin of control

Middle English countrollen, from Anglo-French contrerouler, from contreroule copy of an account, audit, from Medieval Latin contrarotulus, from Latin contra- + Medieval Latin rotulus roll — more at roll

First Known Use: 15th century

Synonym Discussion of control

conduct, manage, control, direct mean to use one's powers to lead, guide, or dominate. conduct implies taking responsibility for the acts and achievements of a group <conducted negotiations>. manage implies direct handling and manipulating or maneuvering toward a desired result <manages a meat market>. control implies a regulating or restraining in order to keep within bounds or on a course <controlling his appetite>. direct implies constant guiding and regulating so as to achieve smooth operation <directs the store's day-to-day business>.



noun, often attributive con·trol

Simple Definition of control

  • : the power to make decisions about how something is managed or done

  • : the ability to direct the actions of someone or something

  • : an action, method, or law that limits the amount or growth of something

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of control

  1. 1 a :  an act or instance of controlling; also :  power or authority to guide or manage b :  skill in the use of a tool, instrument, technique, or artistic medium c :  the regulation of economic activity especially by government directive —usually used in plural <price controls> d :  the ability of a baseball pitcher to control the location of a pitch within the strike zone

  2. 2 :  restraint, reserve

  3. 3 :  one that controls: as a (1) :  an experiment in which the subjects are treated as in a parallel experiment except for omission of the procedure or agent under test and which is used as a standard of comparison in judging experimental effects —called also control experiment (2) :  one (as an organism, culture, or group) that is part of a control b :  a device or mechanism used to regulate or guide the operation of a machine, apparatus, or system c :  an organization that directs a spaceflight <mission control> d :  a personality or spirit believed to actuate the utterances or performances of a spiritualist medium

Examples of control in a sentence

  1. The city wanted local control of education.

  2. The tribes fought for control over the territory.

  3. He took control of the family farm.

  4. She hired an accountant to take control of her money.

  5. He lost all muscle control in his left arm.

  6. The soccer player showed good control of the ball.

  7. a teacher with good control of her students

  8. The farmer used an organic pest control on his crops.

  9. To cut down on competition, the government passed price controls on prescription drugs.

  10. The President wants stricter controls on immigration.


First Known Use of control


Synonym Discussion of control

power, authority, jurisdiction, control, command, sway, dominion mean the right to govern or rule or determine. power implies possession of ability to wield force, authority, or influence <the power to mold public opinion>. authority implies power for a specific purpose within specified limits <granted the authority to manage her estate>. jurisdiction applies to official power exercised within prescribed limits <the bureau having jurisdiction over parks>. control stresses the power to direct and restrain <you are responsible for the students under your control>. command implies the power to make arbitrary decisions and compel obedience <the army officer in command>. sway suggests the extent of exercised power or influence <the empire extended its sway over the region>. dominion stresses sovereign power or supreme authority <given dominion over all the animals>.

power, force, energy, strength, might mean the ability to exert effort. power may imply latent or exerted physical, mental, or spiritual ability to act or be acted upon <the awesome power of flowing water>. force implies the actual effective exercise of power <used enough force to push the door open>. energy applies to power expended or capable of being transformed into work <a worker with boundless energy>. strength applies to the quality or property of a person or thing that makes possible the exertion of force or the withstanding of strain, pressure, or attack <use weight training to build your strength>. might implies great or overwhelming power or strength <the belief that might makes right>.

CONTROL Defined for Kids



verb con·trol \kən-ˈtrōl\

Definition of control for Students


  1. 1 :  to have power over <"Ah, gods, plural, as in, great beings that control the forces of nature and human endeavors…" — Rick Riordan, The Lightning Thief>

  2. 2 :  to direct the actions or behavior of <Police can control a crowd.>

  3. 3 :  to keep within bounds :  restrain <Learn to control your temper.>

  4. 4 :  to direct the function of <How do you control this machine?>

History for control

In medieval England, records were kept in a variety of French. In this variety of French, a contreroule, or “counter-roll,” was a piece of parchment on which payments and receipts were written down. The verb contrerouler meant to check the original records against the “counter-roll” to be sure no mistakes were made. These two words were the source of our noun and verb control. The sense “checking for mistakes” survives in the way we use control to mean something used to check the results of a scientific experiment.



noun con·trol

Definition of control for Students

  1. 1 :  the power or authority to manage <The city wanted local control of education.>

  2. 2 :  ability to keep within bounds or direct the operation of <The fire is out of control.> <He lost control of the car.>

  3. 3 :  self-restraint <I lost control and started yelling.>

  4. 4 :  regulation 2 <price controls>

  5. 5 :  a device used to start, stop, or change the operation of a machine or system <a radio control>

  6. 6 :  something that is not treated or exposed to testing in an experiment in order to serve as a comparison to others that have undergone treatment or exposure

Law Dictionary


transitive verb con·trol

Legal Definition of control


  1. 1 :  to exercise restraining or directing influence over esp. by law

  2. 2 :  to have power or authority over <precedent controls the outcome in this case>

  3. 3 :  to have controlling interest in

control noun

Seen and Heard

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to eat gluttonously or ravenously

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