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 The game could not have started better for Quintana, who struck out five of his first six batters, but when Francisco Mejia singled to lead off the third, Quintana seemed to lose his tempo, rhythm and command out of the stretch. Mike Digiovanna, Los Angeles Times, "Anthony Rendon OK after injury scare in Angels’ loss to Rays; José Quintana struggles," 3 May 2021 The former is the legendary Sun Summoner who can control and command the light of the sun — and who is prophesied to save the world. Rosie Knight,, "29 Essential Shadow and Bone Terms To Know If You Didn’t Read The Books," 23 Apr. 2021 Nevertheless, Wall Street should gladly accept that trade-off, since prescription drugs and medical devices command far higher profit margins than J&J products like Tylenol and Band-Aids. Charley Grant, WSJ, "Johnson & Johnson Shows Health Economy Is Nearing Full Strength," 20 Apr. 2021 Led by Rivera, this class will teach you how to calm your nerves, project confidence and command the room. Kara Cuzzone, Forbes, "This $594 Public Speaking Course Is On Sale For $40 Right Now," 16 Apr. 2021 Globally, ultra low-cost carriers command roughly 30% of total seats in mature aviation markets but only around 5% in the U.S., Mohan said., "Airline stocks may be ready for takeoff on hopes of post-pandemic travel rebound," 15 Apr. 2021 Anybody who can command the fear of total and imminent destruction, as the past year has abundantly shown us, has a certain kind of power available to him. Jo Livingstone, The New Republic, "Last Judgment," 6 Apr. 2021 But with neither the pro-Netanyahu bloc of parties or the grouping opposing him able to muster a coalition that could command a viable parliamentary majority, Israel appears stuck, unable to fully condone him or to remove him from the scene., "Defendant number one or next prime minister? Netanyahu divides Israel," 5 Apr. 2021 But with neither the pro-Netanyahu bloc of parties or the grouping opposing him able to muster a coalition that could command a viable parliamentary majority, Israel appears stuck, unable to fully condone him or to remove him from the scene. New York Times, "Defendant No. 1 or Next Prime Minister? Netanyahu Divides Israel," 5 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In her latest venture, The Big Shot With Bethenny, Frankel is returning to her reality roots searching for a second-in-command to help helm the massive Skinnygirl business. Moira Forbes, Forbes, "Bethenny Frankel On Why The Best Time To Start A Business Is Now," 6 May 2021 Aisha, as chief mate, the ship’s second-in-command, signed the letter designating himself as the legal guardian of the vessel on the advice of the captain, the report said. Natalie Musumeci, Fox News, "Sailor spent nightmarish 4 years trapped aboard Egyptian cargo ship," 1 May 2021 The Yankees hold the superior position in the hills outside town, but Lee disastrously refuses to consider the defensive maneuver urged on him by his second-in-command, James Longstreet. Dorothy Wickenden, WSJ, "Five Best: Novels on Slavery and the Civil War," 30 Apr. 2021 Thus, in this case, before presenting the warrant to a judge, the Giuliani and Toensing search warrants also would have been approved by DOJ's second-in-command, now Lisa Monaco. Jennifer Rodgers, CNN, "Investigation of Rudy Giuliani is ramping up in a big way," 29 Apr. 2021 Ravka's king, and his second-in-command General Kirigan, want the Fold to come down in order to unite the country again. Quinci Legardye, Marie Claire, "The Shadow Fold in 'Shadow and Bone,' Explained," 29 Apr. 2021 His son and son-in-law are both managers at the company but are not seen as ready to step into the executive suite, and his second-in-command is 64. New York Times, "A Bet 20 Years Ago Made It the Exxon of Green Power," 28 Apr. 2021 Edelman’s second-in-command, Derby St. Fort, was widely respected by Brownsville’s community leaders. Saki Knafo, The New Yorker, "Bridging the Divide Between the Police and the Policed," 28 Apr. 2021 Vanita Gupta, who led the Civil Rights Division from 2014 to 2017, was nominated to become the department’s third-in-command as associate attorney general. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "The Mystery of Merrick Garland," 26 Apr. 2021

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 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Command.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for command



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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