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

Will the game script dictate another run-heavy game Sunday in Green Bay? Kevin Cusick, Twin Cities, "The Loop Fantasy Football Update Week 2: Last-minute moves," 15 Sep. 2019 That well could dictate the start of the coming season. Ira Winderman, sun-sentinel.com, "ASK IRA: Will there be enough familiarity to breed content for the Heat?," 13 Sep. 2019 For Better Call Saul nominee Thomas Golubić, a former DJ at Los Angeles radio station KCRW, character arcs usually dictate song choices. Hugh Hart, Fortune, "How TV’s Music Supervisors Make Your Favorite Moments Pop Through Song," 12 Sep. 2019 Market, timing, everything dictates when a deal’s finally done, and both sides will find that ground. BostonGlobe.com, "BUFFALO — Don Sweeney’s summer homework, a protracted study in signing free agents Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy to contract extensions, remains incomplete, the Bruins GM yet to conjure up the right money and term to satisfy the promising blue liners.," 10 Sep. 2019 State statute dictates those originally sentenced to die must be incarcerated in very specific ways. Kelan Lyons, courant.com, "Prisoner population tumbles at maximum-security Northern Correctional Institution," 9 Sep. 2019 State statutes dictate how the stamp revenue must be used, including 67% of funds dedicated to projects in Wisconsin and 33% for waterfowl propagation areas in Canada to benefit birds that migrate through Wisconsin. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Bill on deck to raise price of Wisconsin waterfowl stamp," 7 Sep. 2019 How voters respond — one poll showed the issue passing — will surely dictate what supporters and opponents of TABOR do next. Nic Garcia, The Denver Post, "5 storylines to watch in Colorado politics: TABOR, the 8th Congressional District and more," 5 Sep. 2019 From there, Rees-Mogg’s dictates go from irrational to perverse. Burbank Leader, "A Word, Please: New leader of Britain’s House of Commons imposes unusual grammar rules," 22 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The death knell for the Verizon-Tumblr union came in fall 2018, when Tumblr, following the dictates of Apple’s content guidelines for the Apple Store, banned all adult content from the site. Aja Romano, Vox, "WordPress could give Tumblr the thing it needs most: stability," 13 Aug. 2019 The larger had more than five times the mass of the sun, and physics dictates that something this massive which is generating no starlight to counteract the pull of its gravity must be a black hole. The Economist, "Gravitational astronomy proves its maturity," 22 Aug. 2019 Essentially, the deal was that the farmer would supply the chicken coop and care for the chickens according to the dictates of the company. Thomas Heath, Washington Post, "Corwin Heatwole believes the home team can produce a better bird," 12 July 2019 Or, more relevantly, what is the value of their voice when it is ignored by the unswerving dictate of a heedless authoritarian behemoth? Jiayang Fan, The New Yorker, "The Disillusion and Frustration of a New Generation is Fuelling Hong Kong’s Protests," 3 July 2019 Protesters have mainly focused their anger on Lam, who had little choice but to carry through dictates issued by Beijing, where President Xi Jinping has enforced increasingly authoritarian rule. Jane Onyanga-omara, USA TODAY, "Hong Kong police clear streets as protesters move to park," 17 June 2019 Protesters have mainly focused their anger on Lam, who had little choice but to carry through dictates issued by Beijing, where President Xi Jinping has enforced increasingly authoritarian rule. Borg Wong, BostonGlobe.com, "Hong Kong police clear streets as protesters move to park," 17 June 2019 But what compels and delights me about my particular catalogue is that each book is, at heart, a text that teaches rather than dictates, that emphasizes cooking as a practice rather than as merely a means to a meal. Helen Rosner, The New Yorker, "The Best Cookbooks of the Century So Far," 14 July 2019 The existing formula dictates, on the basis of enrollment, how many administrators and classroom teachers a school must have. Perry Stein, Washington Post, "D.C. continues misspending funds intended for neediest in its schools, report says," 28 June 2019

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

7 Oct 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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