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 While T-Mobile promised to create 1,000 full-time jobs in California, T-Mobile said Tuesday that the state can’t dictate hiring. Scott Moritz, Fortune, "T-Mobile tries to back out of promise to create 1,000 California jobs," 23 June 2020 Chinese citizens are also issued digital barcodes on their phones, or QR codes, that dictate if they are allowed to be in public. Doug Johnson, Wired, "Microtransit Gives City Agencies a Lift During the Pandemic," 20 June 2020 California’s guidelines also dictate that residents must wear face coverings when obtaining health services, including at a hospital, pharmacy, laboratory, dental offices or veterinary clinic. Alexei Koseff, SFChronicle.com, "Californians must wear masks outside home under new state order," 18 June 2020 Chinese citizens are also issued digital barcodes on their phones, or QR codes, that dictate if they are allowed to be in public. Doug Johnson/undark, Popular Science, "The pandemic has cities rethinking public transit," 17 June 2020 Activists in Portland say the time is now because the City Council is currently considering the budget that will dictate how the city spends money for the next year. oregonlive, "Defunding the Portland police: The local abolition movement, explained," 16 June 2020 While sufficient supply currently exists in most of the peripheries, this new demand will eventually also dictate fresh supply. Anuj Puri, Quartz India, "The work-from-home culture could change how Indians buy homes," 16 June 2020 Kennard’s health is a big factor and could dictate how contract talks are handled. Omari Sankofa Ii, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Pistons' Luke Kennard is 100% healthy and 'anxious to play'," 13 June 2020 What’s more, big-city police departments typically have policies that dictate training, use and reporting requirements around weapons and contact with civilians, experts said. Nic Garcia, Dallas News, "Texas police deployed less-lethal ammunition to control protests. Now policymakers want to ban the weapons.," 9 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Think seeding dictates who wins the state championship? Matt Goul, cleveland, "OHSAA football playoff expansion in 2021 is next step of evolving the sport," 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, "I Was Diagnosed With Cancer During My 4th Trimester," 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, "US officials release edited coronavirus reopening guidance after delays," 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, "Protesters demand that embattled Hong Kong leader resign," 17 June 2019 With the utmost diligence, Susan calibrates herself according to contemporary dictates of femininity. Longreads, "“The Leaky Vessel”: On Lewis Carroll and the Perils of Being Female," 27 Mar. 2020 Doctors are a famously independent profession, where individual medical judgment on what’s best for the patient is prized over administrative dictates. Olivia Carville, Fortune, "Hospitals tell doctors they’ll be fired if they speak out about lack of gear," 31 Mar. 2020 The digital dictates may enable governments to exert more social control and enforce social distancing during the pandemic. New York Times, "As Coronavirus Surveillance Escalates, Personal Privacy Plummets," 23 Mar. 2020 So the over-all policy that Iran cannot abandon Syria, or that Iran cannot let the United States get comfortable in Iraq, or Assad has to survive—these are regime-level dictates. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, "The Meaning of Qassem Suleimani’s Death in the Middle East," 3 Jan. 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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Time Traveler for dictate

Time Traveler

The first known use of dictate was in 1577

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Statistics for dictate

Last Updated

27 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Dictate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dictate. Accessed 3 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for dictate

dictate

verb
How to pronounce dictate (audio) How to pronounce dictate (audio)

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
How to pronounce dictate (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dictate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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