in·​doc·​tri·​nate | \ in-ˈdäk-trə-ˌnāt How to pronounce indoctrinate (audio) \
indoctrinated; indoctrinating

Definition of indoctrinate

transitive verb

1 : to instruct especially in fundamentals or rudiments : teach
2 : to imbue with a usually partisan or sectarian opinion, point of view, or principle

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Other Words from indoctrinate

indoctrination \ (ˌ)in-​ˌdäk-​trə-​ˈnā-​shən How to pronounce indoctrination (audio) \ noun
indoctrinator \ in-​ˈdäk-​trə-​ˌnā-​tər How to pronounce indoctrinator (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for indoctrinate


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Did You Know?

Indoctrinate simply means "brainwash" to many people. But its meaning isn't always so negative. When this verb first appeared in English in the 17th century, it simply meant "to teach"-a meaning that followed logically from its Latin root. The "doc" in the middle of indoctrinate derives from the Latin verb docēre, which also means "to teach." Other offspring of "docēre" include "docent" (referring to a college professor or a museum guide), "docile," "doctor," "doctrine," and "document." It was not until the 19th century that "indoctrinate" began to see regular use in the sense of causing someone to absorb and take on certain opinions or principles.

Examples of indoctrinate in a Sentence

The goal should be to teach politics, rather than to indoctrinate students in a narrow set of political beliefs. indoctrinated children in proper safety procedures
Recent Examples on the Web This event is designed to indoctrinate and sexualise young children. Washington Post, "After leading a viral protest against drag queens, a gay college student took his own life," 14 Jan. 2020 In northern Iraq, Newsha Tavakolian photographed youths who were kidnapped and later indoctrinated into ISIS. Time Photo Department, Time, "TIME's Best Photojournalism of 2019," 24 Dec. 2019 Children were more deeply indoctrinated with every year that passed. Mohammed Tawfeeq, CNN, "Counting AK47s and learning trigonometry for snipers. How children were taught math under ISIS," 19 Nov. 2019 As for a Nazi officer indoctrinating the Hitler youth, Rockwell explained his method for getting into character. Los Angeles Times, "The Hitler comedy ‘Jojo Rabbit’ is actually a love letter to single mothers, including Taika Waititi’s," 9 Sep. 2019 The papers confirm reports that more than 1 million people have been detained in internment camps as the Chinese government seeks to strip Uighurs of their identity and indoctrinate them into being secular and loyal party supporters. Lateshia Beachum, Washington Post, "Uighurs and their supporters decry Chinese ‘concentration camps,’ ‘genocide’ after Xinjiang documents leaked," 18 Nov. 2019 Societies shape their children—and regimes indoctrinate them—through play. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, "Trump, the Fear-Based President, Asks Children to “Build the Wall”," 4 Nov. 2019 An ovular on lesbian culture in 1976 caused such a stir that the school was accused of trying to indoctrinate students as lesbians and Marxists., "On a lively tour, reminders of feminist history in Cambridge - The Boston Globe," 28 Oct. 2019 In the twentieth-century version, federal boarding schools, often tied to religious institutions, snapped up Native kids, not unlike the British colonizers did, indoctrinating them with their purportedly superior American ideals. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "IT: Chapter Two and the Great American Tradition of Selling Native Spirituality," 16 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'indoctrinate.' 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 indoctrinate

1626, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for indoctrinate

probably from Middle English endoctrinen, from Anglo-French endoctriner, from en- + doctrine doctrine

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Time Traveler for indoctrinate

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The first known use of indoctrinate was in 1626

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Last Updated

21 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Indoctrinate.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 21 January 2020.

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How to pronounce indoctrinate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of indoctrinate

disapproving : to teach (someone) to fully accept the ideas, opinions, and beliefs of a particular group and to not consider other ideas, opinions, and beliefs


in·​doc·​tri·​nate | \ in-ˈdäk-trə-ˌnāt How to pronounce indoctrinate (audio) \
indoctrinated; indoctrinating

Kids Definition of indoctrinate

: to teach especially the ideas, opinions, or beliefs of a certain group

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More from Merriam-Webster on indoctrinate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for indoctrinate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with indoctrinate

Spanish Central: Translation of indoctrinate

Nglish: Translation of indoctrinate for Spanish Speakers

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