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

Via a sticker on the scooters and a warning in the app, Bird instructs users to wear a helmet. Ethan May, Indianapolis Star, "Here's what you need to know about Bird electric scooters," 21 June 2018 The program instructs children in how to protect themselves in varying situations. Linda Gandee/special To,, "Sign-up reminders for summer recreation work and extra activities in Avon, Avon Lake and North Ridgeville," 9 Apr. 2018 Jesus instructs his followers to love and to serve. Greg Garrison,, "What does Maundy mean? Five things to know about Maundy Thursday," 28 Mar. 2018 Between May 7 and June 20, the Trump administration instructed U.S. Customs and Border Protection to place any adult immigrants who crossed the border illegally in federal custody. Phil Mccausland /, NBC News, "Government says around 2,551 migrant children still need reunification with parents," 14 July 2018 When the feeling persisted , Greta instructed Eliza to try lying down for awhile. Jordyn Hermani, Indianapolis Star, "Fishers teen discovers she has heart defect after wearing Fitbit," 14 July 2018 Right before the police arrive, the 911 dispatcher instructs Cordon that the officers want everyone inside the house to walk outside. Jenny Vrentas,, "Everything We Know About the Allegations Against LeSean McCoy," 12 July 2018 Following the demise of Divvy in Oak Park, trustees instructed staff to look at possible bike-sharing alternatives for the village. Steve Schering,, "Oak Park sells former Divvy stations for $140K; forest preserves offering dockless bike sharing in River Forest," 10 July 2018 Kobach’s office has instructed county election officials to continue to record U.S. citizenship documents that are voluntarily provided by applicants. Roxana Hegeman, The Seattle Times, "Kansas official follows order, registers thousands to vote," 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

9 Nov 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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