in·​struct | \ in-ˈstrəkt How to pronounce instruct (audio) \
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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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 The schoolmaster, a white Englishman named Charles C. Andrews, brought with him from his home country the Lancasterian system to help one or a handful of teachers instruct a class of 500 boys. Bryan Greene, Smithsonian Magazine, "America’s First Black Physician Sought to Heal a Nation’s Persistent Illness," 26 Feb. 2021 The Democrats' proposal would instruct the commission issue its report by the end of the year and disband the commission 60 days after the report is issued, the aide said. Rebecca Kaplan, CBS News, "Democrats seek control of commission to study January 6 attack on Capitol," 23 Feb. 2021 After the review, Maddaus said that her office would implement reforms to require eligibility verification, add more training and instruct judges to note any special arrangements when assigning attorneys to cases. Samantha Hogan, ProPublica, "Lawyers Who Were Ineligible to Handle Serious Criminal Charges Were Given Thousands of These Cases Anyway," 23 Feb. 2021 Those vaccines use messenger RNA (mRNA) to instruct cells to produce proteins associated with the coronavirus, prompting an immune response from the body. Jeremy Kahn, Fortune, "U.K. approves AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine," 30 Dec. 2020 But its movie reviews by the likes of Ross Douthat, and its reflections on modern manners by the likes of Rick Brookhiser, also charm and instruct, and keep readers coming. Daniel J. Mahoney, National Review, "Don’t Lose Sight of Culture," 28 Dec. 2020 MacDonald’s office last year released new protocols for investigating and reporting hate crimes that instruct each department to send data to the FBI. Washington Post, "After taking on Trump, D.C. attorney general turns focus to hate and extremism," 27 Nov. 2020 Those molecules instruct cells how to make a specific type of protein that’s also found on the coronavirus, and this protein stimulates the immune system to make antibodies that would target the virus. Samantha Masunaga, Los Angeles Times, "Why isn’t more COVID-19 vaccine available immediately?," 28 Dec. 2020 Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva will not instruct his deputies to enforce a new statewide stay-at-home order announced Thursday that could force businesses to temporarily shut down as coronavirus cases continue to soar. Fox News, "LA County sheriff: Deputies won't enforce Newsom's stay-at-home order," 4 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for instruct

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for instruct

Last Updated

4 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Instruct.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce instruct (audio) \
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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