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

In the case of the executive order, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is not capable of dictating zoning rules to cities. James P. Sutton, National Review, "YIMBYism Goes National," 1 July 2019 The rooster has a right to crow, the countryside has a right to its sounds, and outsiders have no business dictating their customs to its rural denizens. Adam Nossiter, BostonGlobe.com, "‘The rooster must be defended’: France’s culture clash reaches a coop," 23 June 2019 Much of the potential security hazard behind China’s electronic products stems from its government’s illiberal ability to dictate terms to the corporations that produce those goods. Matthew Gault, The New Republic, "The U.S. Government Is Utterly Inept at Keeping Your Data Secure," 12 June 2019 Each club will have a different name and door logo, to be dictated by the city’s history and aesthetic. Betsy Blumenthal, Condé Nast Traveler, "Philadelphia is Taking on Soho House With the Fitler Club," 5 June 2019 And that’s one way to eventually end up with characters whose behavior is dictated more by someone’s need for another season — or an ending that checks a series of boxes — than by any thoughts of desires of their own. Ellen Gray, https://www.inquirer.com, "‘Big Little Lies’ & ‘A Handmaid’s Tale’: Still things to see here?," 4 June 2019 The access to information and to what sustainability means, and how it must be implemented is dictated by the current dominant cultures: a top down model, that needs to be challenged. Celine Semaan, Teen Vogue, "Why I Started a Sustainable Fashion Conference Series," 26 Apr. 2019 Modern cruise missiles use turbojet or turbofan engines and typically have ranges of 1,000 miles or so, a limit that is dictated by their fuel supply. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Russia Conducts a New Test of its Nuclear-Powered Cruise Missile," 6 Feb. 2019 This time around the robot is connected to the cloud, where its behavior is dictated by constantly learning AI. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Sony’s $2,900 robot dog now on sale in the U.S.," 20 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Yet somewhere between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the terrorist attacks of 9/11, those charged with formulating U.S. policy decided that the dictates of prudence need not apply to the actions of the world’s one and only indispensable nation. Andrew J. Bacevich, Twin Cities, "Andrew Bacevich: Trump’s reluctance to bomb foreign countries is a strength, not a sign of weakness," 4 July 2019 The religious dictates of Molotschna give men all the power. Sarah Jones, The New Republic, "Miriam Toews’s Quiet Revolution," 26 June 2019 The new book, A History of Intellectual Property in 50 Objects, examines these dictates through the lens of iconic items that have influenced global culture. Ephrat Livni, Quartzy, "Every invention you use has one thing in common," 18 June 2019 Grossman submitted to rewriting the novel to better reflect the dictates of Socialist Realism, and in 1935 it was published. Douglas Smith, WSJ, "Vasily Grossman’s ‘Stalingrad’: Harsh and Sublime," 14 June 2019 The most notable: The warmth of the ensemble’s actors, who as the show dictates must also play instruments while portraying the characters that surround Guy and Girl’s blossoming relationship. Matthew J. Palm, orlandosentinel.com, "Mad Cow’s ‘Once’ hits the heart but doesn’t quite grab the soul | Review," 9 June 2019 As fashion tradition dictates, the Met Gala red carpet takes places on the first Monday in May, which is May 6 this year. Sara Delgado, Teen Vogue, "Fans Want BTS to Perform at Met Gala 2019," 3 Apr. 2019 This sounds like higher tariffs for countries that ignore U.S. dictates on climate policy. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Elizabeth Warren Dives In," 31 Dec. 2018 That carries the expectation of loyalty — something that Trump is known to expect from everyone, over and above the dictates of law and policy. Dara Lind, Vox, "John Roberts is mad at Trump for attacking an “Obama judge”," 21 Nov. 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

14 Jul 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 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.

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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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