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

Websites and streaming services aren’t bound to the rules of broadcast television — which typically dictate a 20 or 40-minute-per-episode runtime, with commercial breaks — and there’s been some interesting experiments over the years. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "CBS’s Star Trek: Discovery mini-episodes begin streaming next month," 20 Sep. 2018 It can be assumed that Meghan has been asking him questions related to royal fashion etiquette, which dictates what royal women must wear, such as panty hose and modest hemlines. Amanda Arnold, The Cut, "Prince Harry Apparently Likes Giving Meghan Markle Fashion Tips," 11 June 2018 Virtually no one in the United States approves of the Republican Party’s fiscal priorities (beyond the donors and interest groups who dictate them). Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "A Couple Republican Elites Just Admitted Their Agenda Is Built on Lies," 1 May 2018 Aruna described Knox as controlling, someone who dictated every move of the basketball players in the house. Josh Katzenstein, NOLA.com, "Ade Aruna's road from Nigeria to Tulane to NFL hopeful was filled with detours," 28 Apr. 2018 But, under this philosophy, the supremacy clause of the Constitution, which dictates that federal law takes precedence over state law, is irrelevant. Naomi Fry, The New Yorker, "The Renegade Sheriffs," 23 Apr. 2018 Phelix Martineau's unassisted effort with 3:21 left was the goal that forced Cincinnati, which dictated much of Sunday's game, into a panic. Charlie Hatch, Cincinnati.com, "Cyclones lose 4-2 to Komets, season ends after game five playoff loss," 22 Apr. 2018 His refusal to allow the network to dictate his work earned him unprecedented creative control throughout his 50 years in the industry. Tribune News Service, OregonLive.com, "Steven Bochco, creator of 'Hill Street Blues' and 'NYPD Blue,' dies at 74," 2 Apr. 2018 That said, their feelings do not need to dictate your love life. Marisa Lascala, Good Housekeeping, "Everything You Need to Know About Dating and Single Motherhood," 1 Mar. 2019

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

23 Apr 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

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