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


educate, instruct, lesson, school, teach, train, tutor

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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

The tool has proved to be a popular way to indoctrinate students to global issues, Niazi said. Janene Holzberg,, "Howard County students inspire future caretakers of the natural world," 3 Sep. 2019 All three try to indoctrinate newcomer Tim (Kyle Beltran) into their cheerful, mundane habits, as if busywork were the sum of the burden of recovery. Jesse Green, New York Times, "On Adjacent Stages, Two Haunted Houses, Circa 1882 and 2019," 12 Aug. 2019 Ivanwald, Sharlet found out, was an enclave where young Christian men could eat meat, study the gospels, play basketball, and be indoctrinated into a group that promised them exceptionalism. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "The Patriarchal Allure of The Family," 14 Aug. 2019 Four, the new global media reached billions and indoctrinated rather than reported. Victor Davis Hanson, The Mercury News, "Hanson: Why are Western middle classes revolting against the elites?," 13 June 2019 Four, the new global media reached billions and indoctrinated rather than reported. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "Why Are the Western Middle Classes So Angry?," 13 June 2019 Racist or sexist memes, masquerading as jokes, were used to indoctrinate often young, white men into hateful ideologies. Brian Chasnoff,, "‘A Perfect Storm’ — online hate and political winds whip up white supremacy," 10 Aug. 2019 Beyond training and indoctrinating students, Turkey is also seeking to create a new generation of military officers on the continent. Michael Rubin, National Review, "Turkey’s Africa Strategy Threatens to Breed Islamist Extremism," 26 June 2019 Youngsters are indoctrinated into the world of defensive shifting early, even in college. Henry Schulman,, "Giants’ old-school players are buying into new-school defensive shifting," 4 July 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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Last Updated

14 Oct 2019

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Time Traveler for indoctrinate

The first known use of indoctrinate was in 1626

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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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with indoctrinate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for indoctrinate

Spanish Central: Translation of indoctrinate

Nglish: Translation of indoctrinate for Spanish Speakers

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What made you want to look up indoctrinate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a topic to which one constantly reverts

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