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

Ducey is now required to appoint a Republican to fill this vacancy, since state law dictates that the replacement must be of the same party as McCain and Kyl. Li Zhou, Vox, "Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl is officially stepping down on December 31," 14 Dec. 2018 The participant is invited to feel regret, longing, or fear as the story dictates. Bryan Bishop, The Verge, "Chained mixes virtual reality and live actors to tell a dark Christmas tale," 5 Dec. 2018 Trump may or may not agree with that assessment, but his influence is limited because norms dictate that antitrust decisions be made by Delrahim (as well as officials at the Federal Trade Commission) without interference from the White House. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Newly elected Republican senator could be Google’s fiercest critic," 24 Nov. 2018 While the past has dictated midi skirts, clean lines, and an effortless elegance that was largely unmatched, the current Spring 2019 collection with Hedi at the helm was anything but. Avery Matera, Teen Vogue, "Celine Spring 2019 PFW Show Is Panned on Social Media," 29 Sep. 2018 Under state law, if a patient’s faith dictates that life persists so long as the heart is beating, then brain death alone is not sufficient for a legal declaration of death. Mari A. Schaefer, Philly.com, "Declared brain dead almost 5 years ago, Calif. teen's life finally ends in N.J.," 29 June 2018 The curated selection of products that aren’t edible or smokeable helps alleviate the sterility of the typical dispensary environment, since California law dictates that all cannabis-containing products must be displayed under glass. Kathryn Romeyn, The Hollywood Reporter, "Higher Standards Pop-up Offers Next Level Cannabis Accessories," 19 June 2018 And while beauty standards have traditionally dictated that women's faces should be hairless to be attractive, many women are now actively embracing their beards and mustaches as part of their identities. Meredith Clark, Allure, "5 Women With PCOS Explain Why They Choose to Celebrate Their Facial Hair," 29 May 2018 Martin countered that poll workers were sufficiently trained and while state statute dictates training inspectors, the county also opts to train judges and clerks, which isn’t mandated. Amy Lavalley, Post-Tribune, "Porter County Dems want review of primary problems, complaints," 21 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Its dodgy, outsider status perhaps permitted greater risks and leaps of faith than were available to nonsurgical physicians, who still found themselves making inchworm progress from the dictates of Hippocrates and Galen. Laura Kolbe, WSJ, "‘Under the Knife’ Review: The Kindest Cuts," 14 Nov. 2018 Trump’s Orwellian dictate notwithstanding, there was plenty happening in plain sight last week. Lynn Yaeger, Vogue, "The Week in Washington: In Trump’s White House, It’s 1984," 29 July 2018 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

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

10 Feb 2019

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)

formal
: 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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