com·​mand | \ kə-ˈmand How to pronounce command (audio) \
commanded; commanding; commands

Definition of command

 (Entry 1 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to direct authoritatively : order commanded adherence to the rules
2 : to exercise a dominating influence over : have command of: such as
a : to have at one's immediate disposal commands many resources
b : to demand or receive as one's due commands a high fee
c : to overlook or dominate from or as if from a strategic position a hill that commands the city
d : to have military command of as senior officer command a regiment
3 obsolete : to order or request to be given

intransitive verb

1 : to have or exercise direct authority : govern The king knows how to command well.
2 : to give orders The master commands, and the servants obey.
3 : to be commander The general will command at the western front.
4 : to dominate as if from an elevated place



Definition of command (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : an order given The command was to hold fire.
b(1) : a signal that actuates a device (such as a control mechanism in a spacecraft or one step in a computer)
(2) : the activation of a device by means of such a signal
(3) : a line of code (see code entry 1 sense 5) instructing a computer to send such a signal
2a : the ability to control : mastery She was in command of her emotions.
b : the authority or right to command the officer in command
c(1) : the power to dominate The fort has command of the valley.
(2) : scope of vision The tower provides a wide command of the neighboring hills.
d : facility in use a good command of French
e : control sense 1d a pitcher with good command of his curveball
3 : the act of commanding The troops will charge at command.
4 : the personnel, area, or organization under a commander specifically : a unit of the U.S. Air Force higher than an air force
5 : a position of highest usually military authority He was relieved of his command after being charged with misconduct.
on command
: when an order is given : in response to a command a dog trained to attack on command



Definition of command (Entry 3 of 3)

: done on command or request a command performance

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Other Words from command


commandable \ kə-​ˈman-​də-​bəl How to pronounce command (audio) \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for command


command, order, bid, enjoin, direct, instruct, charge mean to issue orders. command and order imply authority and usually some degree of formality and impersonality. command stresses official exercise of authority. a general commanding troops order may suggest peremptory or arbitrary exercise. ordered his employees about like slaves bid suggests giving orders peremptorily (as to children or servants). she bade him be seated enjoin implies giving an order or direction authoritatively and urgently and often with admonition or solicitude. a sign enjoining patrons to be quiet direct and instruct both connote expectation of obedience and usually concern specific points of procedure or method, instruct sometimes implying greater explicitness or formality. directed her assistant to hold all calls the judge instructed the jury to ignore the remark charge adds to enjoin an implication of imposing as a duty or responsibility. charged by the President with a secret mission


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

Examples of command in a Sentence

Verb She commanded us to leave. Military leaders commanded the troops to open fire. She commanded that work on the bridge cease immediately. We had no choice but to do as they commanded. He commands a platoon of 60. With his skills and experience, he can command a high salary. The company commands much power and influence in the business world. Noun We are expected to obey his commands. She shouted out commands to the crew. We started to teach the dog simple commands like “sit” and “lie down.” You can perform several actions with keyboard commands. The system recognizes voice commands. He was relieved of his command after being charged with misconduct. Who is the officer in command of the unit? I assumed command of the business after my father's death. He immediately took command of the situation. He finally felt in command of his life.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Neither does the occasional $50 a day bonus which the best of them command for extra hazardous duty. James Joseph, Popular Mechanics, "Jetography: Photographing Fighter Jets at 40,000 Feet," 31 Dec. 2020 The shift rarely has any effect on policy, but the voters tend to command more public attention than nonvoters because their dissents are formally recorded. Michael S. Derby, WSJ, "Fed’s Rate-Setting Panel Gets New Members Amid Uncertain Outlook," 30 Dec. 2020 Johnson is aware of the parliamentary dynamic and understands the need for any accord with the EU to command the support of his MPs, according to a person close to the trade talks, who asked not to be identified discussing private deliberations. Joe Mayes,, "With Tories at His Back, Boris Johnson Can’t Cave in on Brexit," 12 Dec. 2020 Each of them — Irving’s Trevor Story, Javier Báez, Francisco Lindor, Corey Seager and Carlos Correa — is likely to command well above $20 million per year. Evan Grant, Dallas News, "Rangers’ roadmap to success in 2021 includes drafting deftly, a middle infield mandate and more," 12 Dec. 2020 Bauer, who won the 2020 Cy Young Award as the National League’s best pitcher, is the hottest arm on the market and likely to command a nine-figure contact, which would help catapult Luba’s fledgling agency into prominence. Susan Slusser,, "How Monterey’s Rachel Luba is upending the man’s world of baseball agents," 1 Dec. 2020 Should your biking life resemble that Dutch dream, the X3 should check just enough boxes to command its high asking price—which is $1,000 cheaper than the relatively recent X2/S2 generation. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "VanMoof X3 ebike review: At $2,000, it’s automatic for (some of) the people," 25 Nov. 2020 But that didn’t include key midseason acquisition and current free agent Jordan Clarkson, who figures to command a salary of somewhere between $8-15 million per season. Andy Larsen, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Analysis: The Miller family was a fine steward of the Utah Jazz, but Ryan Smith will bring new opportunities," 28 Oct. 2020 Elite players are going to continue to command premium pay, but the class of players earning $3 million to $6 million per season could shrink. Brad Biggs,, "Column: Difficult roster — and salary cap — decisions await the Chicago Bears. But the Los Angeles Rams offer a blueprint for how to work the math.," 25 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Even so, the people were able to inform our command of the details of their activity. Sooyoung Haft, Harpers Magazine, "Grounded in Truth," 5 Jan. 2021 While Urena can be effective when healthy, his command often fails him. Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Tigers, Jose Urena optimistic that pitcher can return to form after shaky 2 years," 29 Dec. 2020 And who could have guessed our delight with MSNBC’s Steven Kornacki and CNN’s John King, who dazzled us with their command of charts showing election results? Los Angeles Times, "Yes, there was good news in 2020 too," 21 Dec. 2020 Cowell was also becoming one of New York's most in-demand side musicians, known for his vast command of the jazz language. Giovanni Russonello New York Times, Star Tribune, "Jazz bandleader, pianist, composer over five decades," 20 Dec. 2020 The Theodore Roosevelt is the aircraft carrier from which Navy Captain Brett Crozier was relieved of his command in early April after sending out a letter pleading for help in containing a coronavirus outbreak onboard. CBS News, "Search underway for possible sailor overboard from aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt," 11 Dec. 2020 Ralph Overland, the commander of the Third Cavalry Regiment, Specialist Guillen’s unit, was also relieved of his command. New York Times, "14 Army Officials Disciplined in Fort Hood Investigation," 8 Dec. 2020 An Army veteran from Texas who landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day with 900 men under his command has died at the age of 100. Robert Gearty, Fox News, "Army veteran and D-Day hero Sgt. Maj. Robert Blatnik dead at 100," 7 Dec. 2020 And while the game's gas guzzlers can be auto-driven to your location at your command, almost everyone still drives those cars themselves. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Cyberpunk 2077 is equal parts beautiful and messy," 7 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'command.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of command


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1826, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for command


Middle English comanden, from Anglo-French cumander, from Vulgar Latin *commandare, alteration of Latin commendare to commit to one's charge — more at commend

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Learn More about command

Time Traveler for command

Time Traveler

The first known use of command was in the 14th century

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Statistics for command

Last Updated

10 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Command.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for command


How to pronounce command (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of command

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to give (someone) an order : to tell (someone) to do something in a forceful and often official way
: to have authority and control over (a group of people, such as soldiers)
: to deserve or be able to get or receive (something)



English Language Learners Definition of command (Entry 2 of 2)

: an order given to a person or animal to do something
: an instruction in the form of a code or signal that tells a computer to do something
: the power that someone (such as a military officer) has to give orders and to control a group of people


com·​mand | \ kə-ˈmand How to pronounce command (audio) \
commanded; commanding

Kids Definition of command

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to order with authority The king commanded them to leave.
2 : to have power or control over : be commander of He commands an army.
3 : to demand as right or due : exact A piano teacher commands a high fee.
4 : to survey from a good position The fort is on a hill that commands a view of the city.



Kids Definition of command (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an order given Obey her command.
2 : the authority, right, or power to command : control The troops are under my command.
3 : the ability to control and use : mastery She has a good command of the language.
4 : the people, area, or unit (as of soldiers and weapons) under a commander
5 : a position from which military operations are directed

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