in·struct | \ in-ˈstrəkt \
instructed; instructing; instructs

Definition of instruct 

transitive verb

1 : to give knowledge to : teach, train

2 : to provide with authoritative information or advice the judge instructed the jury

3 : to give an order or command to : direct

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Synonyms & Antonyms for instruct


adjure, bid, boss (around), charge, command, direct, enjoin, order, tell


mind, obey

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Choose the Right Synonym for instruct

teach, instruct, educate, train, discipline, school mean to cause to acquire knowledge or skill. teach applies to any manner of imparting information or skill so that others may learn. taught us a lot about our planet instruct suggests methodical or formal teaching. instructs raw recruits in military drill educate implies development of the mind. more things than formal schooling serve to educate a person train stresses instruction and drill with a specific end in view. trained foreign pilots to operate the new aircraft discipline implies training in habits of order and precision. a disciplined mind school implies training or disciplining especially in what is hard to master. schooled the horse in five gaits

command, order, bid, enjoin, direct, instruct, charge mean to issue orders. command and order imply authority and usually some degree of formality and impersonality. command stresses official exercise of authority. a general commanding troops order may suggest peremptory or arbitrary exercise. ordered his employees about like slaves bid suggests giving orders peremptorily (as to children or servants). she bade him be seated enjoin implies giving an order or direction authoritatively and urgently and often with admonition or solicitude. a sign enjoining patrons to be quiet direct and instruct both connote expectation of obedience and usually concern specific points of procedure or method, instruct sometimes implying greater explicitness or formality. directed her assistant to hold all calls the judge instructed the jury to ignore the remark charge adds to enjoin an implication of imposing as a duty or responsibility. charged by the President with a secret mission

Examples of instruct in a Sentence

She instructed us that we were to remain in our seats. The judge instructed the jury that they should disregard the testimony of the last witness. She advised him to instruct a solicitor.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Anice first instructed us to copy a few of her simple movements—like reaching our hands to the sky one by one, or slowly sinking into a squat on the beat—according to the rhythm of the drums in the background. Tiffany Dodson, SELF, "Afro Flow Yoga Helped Me Connect to the Rhythm of My Ancestors and View Fitness in a New Way," 1 July 2018 In his mandate letter to Jody Wilson-Raybould, Canada’s first indigenous justice minister, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau instructed her to reduce the number of indigenous people in prison. Amanda Coletta, Washington Post, "Canada’s indigenous population is overrepresented in federal prisons — and it’s only getting worse," 1 July 2018 Such systems would be designed to put problem drones into a safe holding pattern, automatically return them to their takeoff point or immediately instruct them to make an emergency landing. Andy Pasztor, WSJ, "U.S., European Air-Safety Agencies Follow Different Paths on Drone Regulation," 22 June 2018 Marcinek said participants are instructed to go to for rules and classes. Michelle L. Quinn, Post-Tribune, "Lake County Fair announces new features," 13 June 2018 The judge instructed them to keep deliberating, and to consider each other’s views, on Thursday morning, but shortly after noon jurors sent another note saying they were hopelessly deadlocked. David Owens,, "Hartford Jury Deadlocks In Murder Case," 24 May 2018 The back of your serum box may instruct you to slowly rub it in your hands and inhale the scent before applying—a step many busy women would balk at, but try it. Eden Univer, Marie Claire, "I Used Korean Beauty Products for Two Weeks and This Is How It Changed My Skin," 7 May 2018 The Trump administration revoked a policy that instructed BLM to consider whether its actions warm the planet. Zack Colman, Scientific American, "A Trump Oil Boom Could Transform This Rocky Mountain Landscape," 13 July 2018 López integrates her research findings into her training program, which instructs climbers to exhaust themselves over a short period of time by hanging on the smallest edges possible or with added weight for just seconds at a time. Ula Chrobak, Outside Online, "Climber Eva López Has a PhD in Finger Strength," 9 July 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for instruct

Middle English, from Latin instructus, past participle of instruere, from in- + struere to build — more at structure

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Statistics for instruct

Last Updated

14 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for instruct

The first known use of instruct was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for instruct



English Language Learners Definition of instruct

: to teach (someone) a subject, skill, etc.

: to give (someone) an order or command

law : to give an order or an explanation of a law to (a jury)


in·struct | \ in-ˈstrəkt \
instructed; instructing

Kids Definition of instruct

1 : to give knowledge to : teach A tutor instructs him in math.

2 : to give information to I instructed him that school was closed.

3 : to give directions or commands to She instructed us to stay seated.


transitive verb

Legal Definition of instruct 

: to provide (a jury) with explanation and directions regarding the law applicable to a case the judge instructed the jury that the plaintiff bears the burden of proof the jury was instructed to ignore the attorney's comments

intransitive verb

: to give instructions to a jury the trial judge refused to instruct on manslaughter —W. R. LaFave and A. W. Scott, Jr.

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Comments on instruct

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


to make amends

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