dictate

verb
dic·​tate | \ˈdik-ˌtāt, dik-ˈ \
dictated; dictating

Definition of dictate 

(Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to utter words to be transcribed : to give dictation dictate for the stenographer

2 : to speak or act domineeringly : prescribe resents being dictated to

transitive verb

1 : to speak or read for a person to transcribe or for a machine to record dictating a letter to her secretary

2a : to issue as an order

b : to impose, pronounce, or specify authoritatively dictate the terms of surrender … the league will dictate policy for all teams …— Alex Yannis

c : to require or determine necessarily injuries dictated the choice of players The weather will dictate how long we stay.

dictate

noun
dic·​tate | \ˈdik-ˌtāt \

Definition of dictate (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : an authoritative rule, prescription, or injunction the dictates of the party

b : a ruling principle according to the dictates of your conscience

2 : a command by one in authority papal dictates

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Examples of dictate in a Sentence

Verb

She's dictating a letter to her secretary. They insisted on being able to dictate the terms of surrender. Tradition dictates that the youngest member should go first. The basket's function dictates its size and shape.

Noun

a starchily worded dictate from on high concerning the company's dress code
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The lawsuit highlights how, in a retail economy increasingly dictated by e-commerce and home delivery, the downsides can often be out of sight, and out of mind. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Your online shopping is polluting this small town," 20 Nov. 2018 The bank, whose policies are dictated by Saudi Arabia, a senior Western official said, started printing vast amounts of new money — at least 600 billion riyals, according to one bank official. Declan Walsh, The Seattle Times, "The tragedy of Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen," 26 Oct. 2018 Titles and honorifics are a tricky thing, dictated by local culture and ideas of etiquette. Bridget Hallinan, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Outdated Gender Norms You Encounter When Booking Your Plane Ticket," 27 Sep. 2018 To give you a quick regal etiquette refresher, royal protocol when meeting the Queen dictates that the guest should wait to be approached by Her Majesty first before speaking to her. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "When Meeting Queen Elizabeth, Susan Sarandon Broke Royal Protocol in a Notable Way," 27 June 2018 Real-life players Chris Webber, Reggie Miller, Nate Robinson and Lisa Leslie hop on board when the plot dictates, under mounds of latex and wigs. Michael Phillips, chicagotribune.com, "'Uncle Drew': Lil Rel Howery coaches NBA all-stars to surprising win," 26 June 2018 Once the city had issued checks — in amounts dictated by Franklin — Franklin then deposited the checks into bank accounts held jointly by her and her relatives. Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press, "Former Detroit payroll employee: I stole $265K from city," 15 May 2018 Dan Kitwood/Getty Images British Prime Minister Theresa May and European Union leaders signed off on a Brexit plan on Sunday, which will dictate the terms of the divorce between the European Union and the United Kingdom. Jen Kirby, Vox, "Why Brexit is tearing the United Kingdom apart," 27 Nov. 2018 Optimize Your Appliances New appliances come with presets that dictate to you, their owner, when they should be used. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "The World of 2045," 14 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

When her relationship with Harry became serious the following year, Meghan deleted all of her social media platforms as royal protocol dictates, but the picture still features her old Twitter account handle in the caption. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Remember That Time Meghan Markle Vacationed with Eddie Redmayne in 2015?," 13 Nov. 2018 Preckwinkle, who lives in Hyde Park, where politicians have long declared themselves independent from party dictates, has a working relationship with Garcia, who serves as her County Board floor leader. Hal Dardick, chicagotribune.com, "Toni Preckwinkle expected to ascend to Cook County Democratic chairman today," 18 Apr. 2018 Under Taliban rule in the late 1990s, they were told to identify themselves by wearing yellow armbands, but the dictate was not wholly enforced. Rahim Faiez, chicagotribune.com, "Suicide bomber targets Sikhs, Hindus in Afghanistan; 19 dead," 1 July 2018 But the end product doesn’t distinguish between responses on the creative, corporate or retail side, or the mass market versus the designer sector, which logic dictates have some different structural challenges. Vanessa Friedman, New York Times, "Fashion’s Woman Problem," 20 May 2018 All Birmingham locations of Edgar's Bakery will be closing early as weather dictates, according to the Edgar's Facebook page. Bob Carlton, AL.com, "Which Birmingham restaurants are open or closed as snow moves in?," 16 Jan. 2018 The imperative of conservative journalists to support Trump is strong, driven by their audience’s demand, by their longstanding alliance with the Republican Party, and often, as in the case of Sinclair and Salem, by the dictates of employers. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "The Scourge of Trumpism in Conservative Journalism," 14 May 2018 The dictates of modesty called for floor-length dresses, and fashion demanded a full skirt beneath a tiny waist. Lorraine Boissoneault, Smithsonian, "Amelia Bloomer Didn’t Mean to Start a Fashion Revolution, But Her Name Became Synonymous With Trousers," 24 May 2018 Abandoning her training by Boas, and ignoring the dictates of both honesty and history, Hurston forsook the opportunity to record the story of another survivor. Casey N. Cep, The New Yorker, "Zora Neale Hurston’s Story of a Former Slave Finally Comes to Print," 7 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dictate.' 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 dictate

Verb

1577, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Noun

1582, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for dictate

Verb

borrowed from Latin dictātus, past participle of dictāre "to say repeatedly, speak aloud words to be transcribed by another, issue as an order," frequentative of dīcere "to talk, speak, say, utter" — more at diction

Note: See note at dictator.

Noun

borrowed from Medieval Latin dictātum "something commanded" (Latin, in plural dictāta "lessons to be transcribed"), noun derivative from neuter of Latin dictātus, past participle of dictāre "to say repeatedly, say aloud words to be transcribed by another, issue as an order" — more at dictate entry 1

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Statistics for dictate

Last Updated

15 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for dictate

The first known use of dictate was in 1577

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More Definitions for dictate

dictate

verb

English Language Learners Definition of dictate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: 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

dictate

noun

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

: an order or direction given with authority

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

dictate

verb
dic·​tate | \ˈdik-ˌtāt \
dictated; dictating

Kids Definition of dictate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to speak or read for someone else to write down or for a machine to record dictate a letter

2 : to say or state with authority : order You can't dictate what I can do.

3 : to make necessary Tradition dictates that we go first.

dictate

noun

Kids Definition of dictate (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an order or direction given with authority : command

2 : a guiding rule or principle She ignores the dictates of fashion.

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More from Merriam-Webster on dictate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with dictate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dictate

Spanish Central: Translation of dictate

Nglish: Translation of dictate for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dictate for Arabic Speakers

Comments on dictate

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