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

Yes, even today, when Meghan is a mere 48 hours postpartum, wearing pantyhose and heels and serving up her new son as unofficial royal rule seems to dictate, there will be sniping and speculation as to her character and intentions. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, "The Controversy Behind Who Got to Cover Meghan and Harry’s Royal Baby Reveal," 8 May 2019 My thing is kind of the song and the moment dictates it. Nicole Sands, PEOPLE.com, "Country Girl? Luke Bryan Thinks It Would 'Be Fun' to Collaborate with Idol Pal Katy Perry," 6 June 2018 The United States Polo Association Rule Book (which is somehow 200 pages longer than the NFL rulebook) dictates that polo players must hold their mallet in their right hands. Chris Chase, For The Win, "13 incredibly bizarre rules in sports from dress codes to one-point safeties," 11 Apr. 2018 Greek mythology also dictates Poseidon is Zeus's brother, who in Greek mythology and Hercules, is Hercules father. Stacey Grant, Seventeen, "20 Insane Disney Movie Fan Theories That Will Blow. Your. Mind.," 16 Apr. 2019 Whole30 dictates 30 full days without any of these products, no excuses. Gray Chapman, SELF, "A Nightmare About Nachos Made Me Realize That Dieting Was Causing Me Food Anxiety," 27 Mar. 2019 Sejong University in Seoul dictates that the fake dates last four hours. Mary Ryu, WSJ, "Failing at Love? Maybe It’s Time for Classes," 15 Feb. 2019 While it's thought that Meghan might have privately approved the interview, protocol dictates that all stories are officially run by the press office first. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Palace Reportedly Didn't Know Meghan Markle's Friends Were Talking to the Press," 9 Feb. 2019 Although Christian groups reportedly disagree over which date is the correct one, tradition dictates that the Twelfth Night is the best time to take down your festive decorations — including your tree. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "When Should You Take Your Christmas Tree Down? The Answer Will Definitely Surprise You," 24 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 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

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

19 May 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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