dictate

verb
dic·​tate | \ ˈdik-ˌtāt How to pronounce dictate (audio) , dik-ˈtāt How to pronounce dictate (audio) \
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 How to pronounce dictate (audio) \

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 Another allows local governments the option to require companies bidding for public construction contracts to enter into project labor agreements, deals that typically dictate work rules. Washington Post, "Minimum wage in Virginia rises to $9.50, after 10-month delay during pandemic," 30 Apr. 2021 At a deeper level, a fast rebound could change the forces and calculations that will dictate the fate of the most audacious effort by a Democratic President to transform the US economy and social safety net in generations. Stephen Collinson And Maeve Reston, CNN, "Biden's economic push tests the power of pocketbook issues to sway America's polarized electorate," 30 Apr. 2021 Among other steps, the City Council will need to approve an ordinance that will dictate the composition and functions of the commission, including its investigative powers. David Hernandez, San Diego Union-Tribune, "San Diego moves forward with process to fully implement new police commission," 26 Apr. 2021 Define the tactic, needs and wants that dictate the course of action that creates the changes needed to implement the strategy, 6. Matthew Erskine, Forbes, "What Do You Do When The Family CEO Suffers From Dementia?," 20 Apr. 2021 The state Legislature approved a measure last month, with much fanfare, that froze the rates that dictate how much employers pay in premiums into the state’s unemployment insurance fund. BostonGlobe.com, "Employers face steep new fee increase to keep state’s unemployment insurance fund solvent," 9 Apr. 2021 And it’s the middle 12 or 13 that dictate how your year is going to go. Sam Blum, Dallas News, "Setting the tone: Bounce-back start for Kyle Gibson vs. Toronto is good news for the Rangers," 7 Apr. 2021 And my nervous system is imprinting patterns that will unconsciously dictate my behavior personally, socially and professionally for decades to come. Alyson Stoner, PEOPLE.com, "Alyson Stoner Pens Eye-Opening Op-Ed on 'Harrowing' Childhood Stardom: 'Revisit the Script'," 7 Apr. 2021 Being a historical landmark, its bright colors have been grandfathered into the townscape, immune from modern ordinances that dictate more muted, desert-like colors, which often translates to darker, bar- and nightclub-appropriate color schemes. Jill Burke, Travel + Leisure, "This Retro Diner in Scottsdale Is Basically a Scene From 'Grease' — and You Might Even Spot John Travolta," 22 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun As of midnight Monday, travelers on airplanes and public transportation like buses and subways must wear face masks in accordance with President Biden’s new dictate. Chronicle Staff, San Francisco Chronicle, "Coronavirus news from the Bay Area: Jan. 28-Feb. 3, 2021," 6 Feb. 2021 Typically, all members of Congress were forced to take or leave the near-trillion-dollar dictate without time to read the thousands of pages, much less study them. John Brummett, Arkansas Online, "From the center out," 27 Dec. 2020 Two days after the league loosened its indoor spectator rules, some fans defied the conference dictate for cross-country races and showed up at Eagan High School for the conference championship meet. Paul Klauda, Star Tribune, "Cross-country section championship keeps parents from attending in person," 21 Oct. 2020 Think seeding dictates who wins the state championship? Matt Goul, cleveland, "OHSAA football playoff expansion in 2021 is next step of evolving the sport," 21 May 2020 As Newton’s third law of motion dictates, every action is met with an equal and opposite reaction — and the experience of birth and postpartum offers no exception. Sandy Jorgenson, refinery29.com, "I Was Diagnosed With Cancer During My 4th Trimester," 19 May 2020 On Thursday, a Trump administration official also speaking on condition of anonymity said there were concerns about the propriety of the government making specific dictates to places of worship. Mike Stobbe, Anchorage Daily News, "US officials release edited coronavirus reopening guidance after delays," 14 May 2020 The protesters have mainly focused their ire toward Lam, who has little choice but to carry through dictates issued by Beijing. Washington Post, "Protesters demand that embattled Hong Kong leader resign," 17 June 2019 With the utmost diligence, Susan calibrates herself according to contemporary dictates of femininity. Longreads, "“The Leaky Vessel”: On Lewis Carroll and the Perils of Being Female," 27 Mar. 2020

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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Time Traveler for dictate

Time Traveler

The first known use of dictate was in 1577

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Statistics for dictate

Last Updated

11 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dictate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dictate. Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce dictate (audio) \
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.

Comments on dictate

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