dictate

1 of 2

verb

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.

dictate

2 of 2

noun

dic·​tate ˈdik-ˌtāt How to pronounce dictate (audio)
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

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
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
Holst, seated away from the piano, would ask them to try out material, dictate parts of the score, or give orchestrational directions. Hugh Morris, New York Times, 29 Mar. 2024 Researchers don’t know how to reliably make the graphene electrodes, whose atomic level structure dictates device performance. IEEE Spectrum, 29 Mar. 2024 The treaty, critics say, would allow the WHO to dictate global public health policy. Michael Dorgan, Fox News, 28 Mar. 2024 The previous owner would retain the rights to Life’s photography and content going back to the 1930s, as public domain laws dictate. Kory Grow, Rolling Stone, 28 Mar. 2024 Trust is not something that can be dictated by leadership – it should be continually nurtured through robust data, responsible AI use, and equitable enablement of teams. Aaron Reich, Forbes, 27 Mar. 2024 The hours and minutes that dictate our days are determined by Earth’s rotation. Laura Paddison, CNN, 27 Mar. 2024 The Ascend program offers an installment plan pay structure for students—but don’t let the cost alone dictate its effectiveness. Hilary Tetenbaum, USA TODAY, 27 Mar. 2024 But there’s nothing laid-back about the show, which has an extraordinarily detailed script that dictates every overlap and movement with unusual precision. Gordon Cox, Variety, 20 Mar. 2024
Noun
Following, five of the best: Regulate Flexible Release Windows For three decades, these have been decided by industry consensus, unlike legal dictates in France, for example. John Hopewell, Variety, 6 Mar. 2024 The key is to identify the print that fits your MO, regardless of what the trend du jour dictates. Ashley W. Simpson, Robb Report, 20 Feb. 2024 His return could also depend on what the open market dictates. Brian Wacker, Baltimore Sun, 15 Feb. 2024 But Tehran is not the puppet master, and the axis’s coherence and regional role reflects far more than Iran’s dictates. Narges Bajoghli, Foreign Affairs, 17 Jan. 2024 Instead of specifying that the decisions, such as end-of-life, funeral, and burial arrangements, be handled in accordance with the dictates of a specified faith (a specification that will offend or upset other family or loved ones), consider a different approach. Martin Shenkman, Forbes, 20 Feb. 2024 Surprisingly enough, none of the men object to her dictates about dining and bedtimes. Joe Leydon, Variety, 3 Jan. 2024 Artists with the courage to challenge institutional dictates; music that felt small and real and occasionally unpresentable. Amanda Petrusich, The New Yorker, 4 Dec. 2023 New York joins California and Illinois at the forefront of reparations efforts, a complicated endeavor that will immerse stakeholders in a contentious political and budgetary conversation about the past and its dictates for the future. Luis Ferré-Sadurní, New York Times, 19 Dec. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'dictate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

Verb

1577, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Noun

1582, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of dictate was in 1577

Dictionary Entries Near dictate

Cite this Entry

“Dictate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dictate. Accessed 13 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

dictate

1 of 2 verb
dictated; dictating
1
: to speak or read for a person to write down or for a machine to record
dictate a letter to a secretary
2
: to say or state with authority or power : give orders
dictate terms of surrender
few people enjoy being dictated to

dictate

2 of 2 noun
ˈdik-ˌtāt
: an order or direction given with authority : command
the dictates of conscience
Etymology

Verb

from Latin dictatus, past participle of dictare "to assert, dictate," from dicere "to say" — related to dictionary, predict, verdict

More from Merriam-Webster on dictate

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