verb in·struct \in-ˈstrəkt\

Definition of instruct

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to give knowledge to :  teach, train

  3. 2 :  to provide with authoritative information or advice the judge instructed the jury

  4. 3 :  to give an order or command to :  direct

Examples of instruct in a sentence

  1. She instructed us that we were to remain in our seats.

  2. The judge instructed the jury that they should disregard the testimony of the last witness.

  3. She advised him to instruct a solicitor.

Origin and Etymology of instruct

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

First Known Use: 15th century

Synonym Discussion of 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.

INSTRUCT Defined for English Language Learners


verb in·struct \in-ˈstrəkt\

Definition of instruct for English Language Learners

  • : 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)

INSTRUCT Defined for Kids


verb in·struct \in-ˈstrəkt\

Definition of instruct for Students




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

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

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

Law Dictionary


transitive verb in·struct

Legal Definition of instruct

  1. :  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

  2. intransitive verb
  3. :  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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capable of being understood in two ways

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