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

Definition of indoctrinate

transitive verb

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

Other Words from indoctrinate

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

Synonyms for indoctrinate


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Indoctrinate means "brainwash" to many people, but its meaning isn't always so negative. When the verb first appeared in English in the 17th century, it simply meant "to teach"—a meaning linked closely to its source, the Latin verb docēre, which also means "to teach." (Other offspring of docēre include docile, doctor, document, and, of course, doctrine). By the 19th century, indoctrinate was being used in the sense of teaching someone to fully accept only the ideas, opinions, and beliefs of a particular group.

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 Some politicians and activists of late have made accusations that teaching about race and inclusion in school is divisive, or a way to indoctrinate students. Kiara Alfonseca, ABC News, 19 May 2022 Supporters argued that the bill is needed to prevent classrooms from being used to indoctrinate children. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 21 Apr. 2022 Some conservative groups claim critical race theory and social emotional learning are used to indoctrinate students. Jay Croft, CNN, 22 Apr. 2022 This type of story, that Disney is a woke company used by the liberal Hollywood elite to indoctrinate children with radical gender theories, feeds right into that broad theory and reinforces it. Oliver Darcy, CNN, 30 Mar. 2022 If Woodson were alive today, he’d be portrayed by conservatives as a radical academic trying to indoctrinate the youth. Justin Phillips, San Francisco Chronicle, 20 Feb. 2022 The party’s solution was to indoctrinate and incorporate non-Han peoples into the dictatorship of the proletariat. Ian Buruma, Harper’s Magazine , 18 Jan. 2022 Using the force of government to indoctrinate people into viewing their fellow citizens not as individuals, but as members of monolithic groups defined by skin color, is both deeply wrong and deeply harmful for all involved. David Mcdonald, National Review, 6 Feb. 2022 Without leaders’ coordinated efforts to indoctrinate such a base, no lie can take hold. Katherine Stewart, The New Republic, 10 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of indoctrinate

1626, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for indoctrinate

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

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The first known use of indoctrinate was in 1626

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Last Updated

20 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Indoctrinate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for indoctrinate


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

More from Merriam-Webster on indoctrinate

Nglish: Translation of indoctrinate for Spanish Speakers


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