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 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 Biden has pledged to make testing free and widely available, to hire thousands of health workers to help implement contact-tracing programs and to instruct the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide clear, expert advice. Will Weissert, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Biden targets coronavirus as his White House transition begins," 10 Nov. 2020 Finally, with only the youngest left, the king, shaken by the scene, implores the mother to come to her senses and instruct the child to comply. David Harsanyi, National Review, "The True Meaning of Hanukkah," 9 Dec. 2020 All a President has to do is instruct the Education Secretary to use this authority to cancel all federal student debt. Astra Taylor, The New Yorker, "How the Biden Administration Can Free Americans from Student Debt," 23 Nov. 2020 The business will employ about 10 people, mostly coaches who will instruct customers in safety rules and throwing techniques. Jesse Leavenworth,, "Axe throwing franchise Stumpy’s opening first Connecticut franchise in Manchester," 17 Nov. 2020 School systems in Northern Virginia — including Loudoun and Fairfax Counties, which together instruct more than 250,000 children — began permitting small groups of vulnerable children back into classrooms in late October and early November. Washington Post, "Virginia teachers’ groups ask Gov. Northam to return state to all-virtual instruction," 16 Nov. 2020 Coyne used the criticism as an opportunity to instruct readers about how news coverage works. Sean P. Means, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Connie Coyne, former Tribune editor and reader advocate, dies at 76," 13 Nov. 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

15 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Instruct.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for instruct


How to pronounce instruct (audio)

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.

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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