verb in·struct \ in-ˈstrəkt \
|Updated on: 6 Jul 2018

Definition of instruct

instructed; instructing; instructs
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

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.

Recent Examples of instruct from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of instruct

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

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


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

instructed; instructing
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.

Law Dictionary


transitive verb in·struct

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
: 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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to grant as a privilege or special favor

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