1

dictate

verb dic·tate \ ˈdik-ˌtāt , dik-ˈ \
Updated on: 9 Dec 2017

Definition of dictate

dictated; dictating
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
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

Latin dictatus, past participle of dictare to assert, dictate, frequentative of dicere to say — more at diction

dictate Synonyms

Synonyms
call, decree, command, direct, mandate, ordain, order
Related Words
ask, petition, request; demand, require
Near Antonyms
cancel, countermand, rescind

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



DICTATE Defined for English Language Learners

dictate

verb

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

noun

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.


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up dictate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

WORD OF THE DAY

allowing a liquid or gas to pass through

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu-jedi-training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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