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

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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 Regardless, that doesn’t mean Virginia can’t control the pace of the game and slow down Maryland’s offense. Mike Preston, Baltimore Sun, 15 May 2022 Secretary of state elections across the country may prove even more consequential because those officials oversee elections, control the machinery and vastly influence public opinion with their pronouncements about the integrity of the vote. Margaret Sullivan, Washington Post, 15 May 2022 The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates this year to help control inflation. Zack Friedman, Forbes, 14 May 2022 She is being weaned off the medications that control her pain. Brenda Goodman, CNN, 13 May 2022 The Sepicontrol™ complex helps absorb and control oil to balance skin. The Salt Lake Tribune, 13 May 2022 That refers to a classification for small business owners in which socially or economically disadvantaged individuals own at least a 51 percent interest and also control management and daily business operations. San Diego Union-Tribune, 13 May 2022 When Toshiba sold its memory-chip unit to a consortium led by Bain Capital in 2018, the deal was structured to make sure Japanese investors control the majority of voting rights. Jacky Wong, WSJ, 13 May 2022 Casualties of Russia's war in Ukraine emerged in stark relief as a new satellite image showed an expansion of a cemetery in the vital port city of Mariupol, which Russian forces now control – except the iconic Azovstal Iron and Steel Works. Tyler O'neil, Fox News, 13 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Holding a flimsy piping bag can be difficult for little hands, but this frosting tube gives children much more control when decorating their baked creations. Elizabeth Berry, Woman's Day, 16 May 2022 Perhaps the biggest is the potential for cyberbullying, said Titania Jordan, chief marketing officer for the parental control app Bark. Tatum Hunter, Washington Post, 16 May 2022 Dozens of deputies had to be dispatched for crowd control, according to the agency. Amanda Rabines, Orlando Sentinel, 16 May 2022 This smaller band seemed paradoxically louder, more powerful, as each player’s precise control of their own timbre, bow weight, and articulation was striking in this smaller hall. Luke Schulze, San Diego Union-Tribune, 16 May 2022 Follow these steps for an effective pest control plan. Rebecca Straus, Good Housekeeping, 16 May 2022 Still the project would remain under the city’s control. Brian Maffly, The Salt Lake Tribune, 16 May 2022 The establishment and far-right factions of the Republican Party are also vying for control in other races in the state. Marc Levy And Gary D. Robertson, Anchorage Daily News, 16 May 2022 Then there are private residential control applications done on a commercial basis meant to get rid of nuisance mosquitoes. Karl Schneider, The Indianapolis Star, 16 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

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Time Traveler for control

Time Traveler

The first known use of control was in 1523

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Dictionary Entries Near control



control account

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Statistics for control

Last Updated

18 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Control.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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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


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