con·​trol | \ kən-ˈtrōl How to pronounce control (audio) \
controlled; controlling

Definition of control

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to exercise restraining or directing influence over : regulate control one's anger
b : to have power over : rule A single company controls the industry.
c : to reduce the incidence or severity of especially to innocuous levels control an insect population control a disease
2a : to incorporate suitable controls in a controlled test — see also controlled experiment
b archaic : to check, test, or verify by evidence or experiments

intransitive verb

: to incorporate controls in an experiment or study used with for control for socioeconomic differences


noun, often attributive

Definition of control (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : an act or instance of controlling also : power or authority to guide or manage He took control of the family business.
b : skill in the use of a tool, instrument, technique, or artistic medium a singer's control of her voice
c : the regulation of economic activity especially by government directive usually used in plural price controlsrent controls
d : the ability of a baseball pitcher to control the location of a pitch within the strike zone
2 : restraint, reserve exercised control of his passions
3 : one that controls: such as
a : a device or mechanism used to regulate or guide the operation of a machine, apparatus, or system the controls of the aircraft
b : an organization that directs a spaceflight mission control
(2) : one (such as an organism, culture, or group) that is part of a control experiment and is used as a standard of comparison … the residents in the experimental group also seemed to have a lower rate of mortality when compared with controls— Ellen J. Langer and Jerry Avorn often used before another noun Because patients sometimes get better or worse on their own, drug tests also need a control group to compare the new drug with standard treatment or a placebo.— Marilyn Chase
d : a personality or spirit believed to actuate the utterances or performances of a spiritualist medium
4 or less commonly Control : control key

Other Words from control


controllability \ kən-​ˌtrō-​lə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce control (audio) \ noun
controllable \ kən-​ˈtrō-​lə-​bəl How to pronounce control (audio) \ adjective
controlment \ kən-​ˈtrōl-​mənt How to pronounce control (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for control

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for 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


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 control in a Sentence

Verb The parents could not control their child. The police controlled the crowd. The small boy could not control the big dog. Her family controls the business. One country controls the whole island. The rebel army now controls nearly half the country. The lights on stage are controlled by this computer. She struggled to control the cart as it rolled before her down the steep, bumpy road. He controlled the volume by turning the radio's knob. A thermostat controls the room's temperature. Noun The city wanted local control of education. The tribes fought for control over the territory. He took control of the family farm. She hired an accountant to take control of her money. He lost all muscle control in his left arm. The soccer player showed good control of the ball. a teacher with good control of her students The farmer used an organic pest control on his crops. To cut down on competition, the government passed price controls on prescription drugs. The President wants stricter controls on immigration. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Depp has testified for several days of the trial, now into its fourth week, and has largely been able to control the narrative. Winston Cho, The Hollywood Reporter, 2 May 2022 Don’t get caught up in trying to control the outcome. Meghan Rose, Glamour, 1 May 2022 With Beijing and Shanghai struggling to control Covid-19 outbreaks, China’s pandemic strategy faces a moment of truth. Sha Hua, WSJ, 1 May 2022 Business owners would love to be able to control the seaweed that has swarmed South Florida coastlines for the past 10 years. Lois K. Solomon, Sun Sentinel, 1 May 2022 Who who wants to control the border would permit a provision that allows countless numbers of times that an individual can try to cross the border? NBC News, 1 May 2022 Miticides are used to control varroa, but the mites fairly rapidly evolved resistance to the first two products. Steven Savage, Forbes, 30 Apr. 2022 Firefighters were able to control a trouble spot just west of Mount Tritle. Laura Daniella Sepulveda, The Arizona Republic, 30 Apr. 2022 Yet other Chinese cities are scrambling to control their case numbers and avoid the disruption and public anger seen in Shanghai. Nicholas Gordon, Fortune, 29 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The following year at the Masters, Molinari’s tee shot into the water on the par-3 12th allowed Woods to seize control. Ben Nuckols, Baltimore Sun, 4 May 2022 Republican Party of Arkansas Chairwoman Jonelle Fulmer said Republican control of the state is evidence of the will of the people of Arkansas. Dale Ellis, Arkansas Online, 4 May 2022 Containment defines the amount of the fire's perimeter surrounded by a control line that the fire will not cross. Angela Cordoba Perez, The Arizona Republic, 4 May 2022 Also, paying into a national advertising fund relinquishes control to franchisors, which in many cases doesn’t help an individual franchisee as much as spending their own money on local marketing. Expert Panel®, Forbes, 4 May 2022 The season/series ended with Marc/Steven (Oscar Isaac/British-accented Oscar Isaac) waking up back in Marc’s London flat, both now seemingly released from Khonshu’s control. Josh St. Clair, Men's Health, 4 May 2022 Famines, like vaccine inequity, are caused by unequal distribution related to power dynamics and monopoly control over production and distribution. Els Torreele, STAT, 4 May 2022 Many states with one-party control of government already have chosen their side. Lindsay Whitehurst, Chicago Tribune, 4 May 2022 Some covers add air vents (a nice extra that keeps condensation off your grill, plus helps with wind control), and handles for easily sliding them on and off. Rachel Klein, Popular Mechanics, 4 May 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of control


1523, in the meaning defined at sense 2b


1564, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for control

Verb and Noun

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

Learn More About control

Time Traveler for control

Time Traveler

The first known use of control was in 1523

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near control



control account

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for control

Last Updated

6 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Control.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for control


con·​trol | \ kən-ˈtrōl How to pronounce control (audio) \
controlled; controlling

Kids Definition of control

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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 : to direct the actions or behavior of Police can control a crowd.
3 : to keep within bounds : restrain Learn to control your temper.
4 : to direct the function of How do you control this machine?



Kids Definition of control (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the power or authority to manage The city wanted local control of education.
2 : ability to keep within bounds or direct the operation of The fire is out of control. He lost control of the car.
3 : self-restraint I lost control and started yelling.
4 : regulation sense 2 price controls
5 : a device used to start, stop, or change the operation of a machine or system a radio control
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


con·​trol | \ kən-ˈtrōl How to pronounce control (audio) \
controlled; controlling

Medical Definition of control

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to incorporate suitable controls in a controlled experiment
2 : to reduce the incidence or severity of especially to innocuous levels control an insect population a vaccine for controlling outbreaks of cholera

intransitive verb

: to incorporate controls in an experiment or study used with for failure to control for the difference in the rate of smoking between the two groups— Howard Bauchner et al.



Medical Definition of control (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an act or instance of controlling something control of acute intermittent porphyria
2 : one that is used in controlling something: as
a : 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

b : one (as an organism, culture, or group) that is part of a control


transitive verb
controlled; controlling

Legal Definition of control

1 : to exercise restraining or directing influence over especially by law
2 : to have power or authority over precedent controls the outcome in this case
3 : to have controlling interest in

Other Words from control

control noun

More from Merriam-Webster on control

Nglish: Translation of control for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of control for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about control


Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Food

  • a-light
  • Name these cookies!
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!