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

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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 Unless California tears up the curriculum and goes back to the drawing board, the course would indoctrinate and divide. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Hope for California’s Schools," 1 Oct. 2020 Brady was an assistant with the Saints in 2018 when New Orleans acquired Bridgewater from the Jets and helped indoctrinate him into the system. Phil Thompson,, "10 fantasy football free agents to add at the last minute for Week 1," 8 Sep. 2020 The elder Hughes was keen to indoctrinate his boys into his passion, says Bob Ponder, Mike’s uncle. David Howard, Popular Mechanics, ""Mad Mike" Hughes Rejected Science and Chased Fame. It Killed Him.," 30 Aug. 2020 Under Xi, the Xinjiang government expanded efforts to cajole, pressure, or force Uighurs to return from abroad, and also established the internment camps intended to indoctrinate Uighurs to turn away from religion and embrace Chinese rule. Marlise Simons,, "Uighur exiles push for court case accusing China of genocide," 6 July 2020 Children in Taiwan were indoctrinated with KMT propaganda, which encouraged a quasi-imperial personality cult around Chiang and his family. Ian Buruma, Harper's Magazine, "Common Enemy," 23 Nov. 2019 When first years are indoctrinated in the mythology of the Trojan Family, Hughes won’t be mentioned. Harriet Ryan, Los Angeles Times, "This secret donor has given USC $400 million," 5 Sep. 2019 The difference is that Global Citizen, which regularly co-opts pop-music stars as figureheads for its events, means to interfere and indoctrinate. Armond White, National Review, "The Stones’ ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ — Redefined," 22 Apr. 2020 These places have a lot of power over the people that became indoctrinated. Dave Itzkoff, New York Times, "Animals, Sex and Guns? Eric Goode Knew ‘Tiger King’ Had Potential," 1 Apr. 2020

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 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

5 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Indoctrinate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Oct. 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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