1

dictate

verb dic·tate \ ˈdik-ˌtāt , dik-ˈ \
|Updated on: 17 Jun 2018

Definition of dictate

dictated; dictating
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
1 : to speak or read for a person to transcribe or for a machine to record
  • dictating a letter to her secretary
2 a : 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.

Examples of dictate in a Sentence

  1. She's dictating a letter to her secretary.

  2. They insisted on being able to dictate the terms of surrender.

  3. Tradition dictates that the youngest member should go first.

  4. The basket's function dictates its size and shape.

Recent Examples of dictate from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of dictate

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.

dictate Synonyms

Near Antonyms

cancel, countermand, rescind;

Related Words

ask, petition, request;

demand, require;

Phrases

call for;


2

dictate

noun dic·tate \ ˈdik-ˌtāt \

Definition of dictate

1 a : 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

Examples of dictate in a Sentence

  1. a starchily worded dictate from on high concerning the company's dress code

Recent Examples of dictate from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of dictate

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 1dictate



DICTATE Defined for English Language Learners

dictate

Definition of dictate for English Language Learners

  • : 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

Definition of dictate for English Language Learners

  • : an order or direction given with authority

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


DICTATE Defined for Kids

1

dictate

verb dic·tate \ ˈdik-ˌtāt \

Definition of dictate for Students

dictated; dictating
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.

Word Root of dictate

The Latin word dicere, meaning “to say” or “to speak,” and its form dictus give us the root dict. Words from the Latin dicere have something to do with saying or speaking. To dictate is to say words that are to be written down by someone else. To contradict is to say the opposite of what someone else has said. To predict is to say what will happen before it does.


2

dictate

noun

Definition of dictate for Students

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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