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verb dic·tate \ˈdik-ˌtāt, dik-ˈ\

Simple Definition of dictate

  • : to speak or read (something) to a person who writes it down or to a machine that records it

  • : to say or state (something) with authority or power

  • : to make (something) necessary

Full Definition of dictate


  1. intransitive verb
  2. 1 :  to give dictation

  3. 2 :  to speak or act domineeringly :  prescribe

  4. transitive verb
  5. 1 :  to speak or read for a person to transcribe or for a machine to record

  6. 2 a :  to issue as an order b :  to impose, pronounce, or specify authoritatively c :  to require or determine necessarily <injuries dictated the choice of players>

Examples of dictate

  1. She's dictating a letter to her secretary.

  2. They insisted on being able to dictate the terms of surrender.

  3. Tradition dictates that the youngest member should go first.

  4. The basket's function dictates its size and shape.

Origin of dictate

Latin dictatus, past participle of dictare to assert, dictate, frequentative of dicere to say — more at diction

First Known Use: 1581

Rhymes with dictate

abate, ablate, adnate, aerate, age-mate, agnate, airdate, airfreight, alate, arête, await, backdate, baldpate, bandmate, baseplate, bedmate, bedplate, berate, birthrate, bistate, bite plate, blank slate, blind date, blue plate, bookplate, breastplate, casemate, castrate, caudate, cell plate, cerate, cheapskate, checkmate, chelate, chordate, citrate, classmate, clavate, cognate, collate, comate, conflate, connate, Cook Strait, cordate, create, cremate, crenate, curate, cut-rate, deadweight, death rate, debate, deflate, delate, dentate, derate, dilate, disrate, donate, doorplate, downstate, drawplate, elate, end plate, equate, estate, faceplate, falcate, fellate, filtrate, first-rate, fishplate, fixate, flatmate, floodgate, fluxgate, flyweight, folate, formate, frustrate, gelate, gestate, ground state, gyrate, hamate, hastate, headgate, Hell Gate, helpmate, home plate, hot plate, housemate, hydrate, ice-skate, inflate, ingrate, inmate, innate, instate, irate, jailbait, Kuwait, lactate, lapse rate, legate, liftgate, ligate, lightweight, liquate, lobate, locate, lunate, lustrate, lych-gate, lyrate, magnate, makebate, makeweight, mandate, messmate, migrate, misstate, mutate, nameplate, narrate, negate, Newgate, nitrate, notate, nutate, oblate, of late, orate, ornate, ovate, palmate, palpate, peltate, phonate, pinnate, placate, playdate, playmate, plicate, portrait, postdate, predate, prime rate, probate, prolate, pronate, prorate, prostate, prostrate, punctate, pupate, quadrate, rain date, ramate, rebate, red-bait, relate, restate, roommate, rostrate, rotate, saccate, schoolmate, seatmate, sedate, sensate, septate, serrate, shipmate, short weight, slave state, soleplate, soul mate, spectate, spicate, squamate, stagnate, stalemate, stellate, striate, sublate, substrate, sulcate, summate, tailgate, teammate, Tebet, tenth-rate, ternate, terneplate, testate, third-rate, tinplate, to date, toeplate, tollgate, tractate, translate, tristate, truncate, unweight, update, uprate, upstate, V-8, vacate, vallate, valvate, vibrate, virgate, vulgate, whitebait, workmate



noun dic·tate \ˈdik-ˌtāt\

Simple Definition of dictate

  • : an order or direction given with authority

  • : a rule or principle that guides something (such as an activity or a person's behavior)

Full Definition of dictate

  1. 1 a :  an authoritative rule, prescription, or injunction b :  a ruling principle <according to the dictates of your conscience>

  2. 2 :  a command by one in authority

Examples of dictate

  1. <a starchily worded dictate from on high concerning the company's dress code>


First Known Use of dictate


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up dictate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 12, 2016

of, relating to, or suggestive of marble

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