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 As talent trickled up to fill open roster spots, many players were promoted faster than their production would dictate. Greg Luca, San Antonio Express-News, 31 May 2021 Feel free to change out the protein, vegetables and cheese as your supplies dictate. Washington Post, 26 May 2021 Who delivers it and under what conditions can dictate whether the receiver will take it well or not. Dr. Ruth Gotian, Forbes, 25 May 2021 Finally, as science would dictate, did the CDC look at the data from private and parochial schools that have been open without any problems, or states such as Florida, with open schools and no problems? WSJ, 14 May 2021 Prudence would dictate a national search be undertaken, said Nolan. BostonGlobe.com, 14 May 2021 Soft cheeses and strips of cheese will stand alone, becoming a prominent bite and will dictate the overall flavor of the salad. Rebecca White, Dallas News, 4 May 2021 As the vaccine rollout continues, L.A. — along with providers throughout the state — is continuing to tweak its efforts as needs and circumstances dictate. Luke Money, Los Angeles Times, 19 Apr. 2021 Schwertner noted that Texans would still be personally responsible for learning to handle their weapons and said other federal and state laws dictate who is prohibited from carrying a weapon. Sara Murray, CNN, 6 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun As of midnight Monday, travelers on airplanes and public transportation like buses and subways must wear face masks in accordance with President Biden’s new dictate. Chronicle Staff, San Francisco Chronicle, 6 Feb. 2021 Typically, all members of Congress were forced to take or leave the near-trillion-dollar dictate without time to read the thousands of pages, much less study them. John Brummett, Arkansas Online, 27 Dec. 2020 Two days after the league loosened its indoor spectator rules, some fans defied the conference dictate for cross-country races and showed up at Eagan High School for the conference championship meet. Paul Klauda, Star Tribune, 21 Oct. 2020 Think seeding dictates who wins the state championship? Matt Goul, cleveland, 21 May 2020 As Newton’s third law of motion dictates, every action is met with an equal and opposite reaction — and the experience of birth and postpartum offers no exception. Sandy Jorgenson, refinery29.com, 19 May 2020 On Thursday, a Trump administration official also speaking on condition of anonymity said there were concerns about the propriety of the government making specific dictates to places of worship. Mike Stobbe, Anchorage Daily News, 14 May 2020 The protesters have mainly focused their ire toward Lam, who has little choice but to carry through dictates issued by Beijing. Washington Post, 17 June 2019 With the utmost diligence, Susan calibrates herself according to contemporary dictates of femininity. Longreads, 27 Mar. 2020

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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Learn More about dictate

Time Traveler for dictate

Time Traveler

The first known use of dictate was in 1577

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Statistics for dictate

Last Updated

4 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dictate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dictate. Accessed 13 Jun. 2021.

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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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