in·​struc·​tion | \in-ˈstrək-shən \

Definition of instruction 

1a instructions plural : an outline or manual of technical procedure : directions

b : a direction calling for compliance : order usually used in plural had instructions not to admit strangers

c : a code that tells a computer to perform a particular operation

d : precept prevailing cultural instructions

2 : the action, practice, or profession of teaching

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from instruction

instructional \ in-​ˈstrək-​shnəl , -​shə-​nᵊl \ adjective

Examples of instruction in a Sentence

You should read each instruction carefully. Their instruction was to deliver the package by five o'clock. The after-school program offers reading instruction to students who need it. The computer can handle one million instructions per second.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Spurning their mothers’ instructions, Willa’s son Dylan and the wild child Gren become friends, inadvertently inciting a bloody confrontation during a Christmas party. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction: A Depraved and Beautiful Dream of the World," 12 July 2018 His players certainly seemed to follow his instructions, as Croatia dominated possession for much of the remainder of the match., "'We Nullified Them': Croatia Head Coach Hails Semi-Final Victory Over England as 'Our Best Game'," 12 July 2018 Both of Matchbook’s schools were hybrid charters, where students learn in a brick-and-mortar building but receive the majority of their instruction virtually. Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, "What’s really going on in Indiana’s public schools," 12 July 2018 The individual disregarded her instructions and ventured immediately into the size-able audience. Mitchell Peters, Billboard, "The Avett Brothers Cancel Oregon Concert After Man With Gun Disappears Into Crowd," 8 July 2018 Recovering from the intestinal flu in Jewish Hospital on the night of Jan. 14, 1993, the University of Louisville’s head basketball coach relayed his instructions by telephone to the Cardinals bench. Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, "Clifford Rozier's death is a sad reminder of what might have been," 7 July 2018 Each operating system, iOS for Apple phones, Android for Android devices and Windows for Microsoft devices provides its own instructions on how to prevent the delivery of tailored in-application advertisements., "Privacy Policy," 3 July 2018 Along with her instructions, Allen-Stewart posted photos of her back taken after a recent sunburn. Amanda Macmillan,, "Can Shaving Cream Treat a Sunburn? A Dermatologist Weighs In on This Home Remedy Gone Viral," 28 June 2018 Each operating system, iOS for Apple phones, Android for Android devices and Windows for Microsoft devices provides its own instructions on how to prevent the delivery of tailored in-application advertisements., "San Diego Union-Tribune Privacy Policy," 21 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'instruction.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of instruction

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about instruction

Share instruction

Statistics for instruction

Last Updated

10 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for instruction

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for instruction



English Language Learners Definition of instruction

: a statement that describes how to do something

: an order or command

: the action or process of teaching : the act of instructing someone


in·​struc·​tion | \in-ˈstrək-shən \

Kids Definition of instruction

1 instructions plural : a specific rule or command I left instructions that I was not to be disturbed.

2 instructions plural : an outline of how something is to be done Follow the instructions on the box.

3 : the act or practice of teaching Students receive instruction in history.



Legal Definition of instruction 

: an explanation of an applicable principle of law given by a judge to a jury before the jury retires to consider its verdict

called also jury charge, jury instruction

Note: Under both the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, at the close of evidence, or before the close if the court reasonably so directs, any party may file written requests for the instructions to be given to the jury by the court. The court must advise the parties of its decision regarding the instructions prior to closing argument so that the parties may address the instructions during argument. Any objections to the instructions must be made before the jury retires for deliberation.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on instruction

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


noxious or harmful

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A Thanksgiving Word Quiz

  • a-traditional-thanksgiving-dinner
  • November comes from a word for which of the following numbers?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!