in·​struct in-ˈstrəkt How to pronounce instruct (audio)
instructed; instructing; instructs

transitive verb

: to give knowledge to : teach, train
: to provide with authoritative information or advice
the judge instructed the jury
: to give an order or command to : direct
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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web Because the cases of students who entered the competition have not been heard yet, they've been instructed not to talk about their situations. Michelle Miller, CBS News, 16 Sep. 2023 Principals have been instructed to review safety procedures and policies at athletic events. Howard Koplowitz |, al, 15 Sep. 2023 In a timeless, abundant land of woods, plains and water, a gruff farmer summons a timid teacher to instruct his daughter. Boyd Tonkin, WSJ, 15 Sep. 2023 And in the spring, Hunter Biden attorney Abbe Lowell twice wrote letters to Ziegler instructing him to preserve documents related to Hunter Biden -- a letter commonly sent by attorneys before filing formal litigation. Lucien Bruggeman, ABC News, 13 Sep. 2023 For example, a male dancer instructs a female dancer to move closer. Steven Vargas, Los Angeles Times, 13 Sep. 2023 The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines use the mRNA technology, which instructs the body to make a replica of the spike protein that’s found on the virus. Globe Staff,, 11 Sep. 2023 Here, the cast routinely breaks the fourth wall, as Charles instructs editor Al LeVine to pick not-quite-perfect takes in which audiences can see the actors struggling to keep a straight face. Peter Debruge, Variety, 8 Sep. 2023 Teachers have been instructed to organize quizzes and essay- and slogan-writing competitions. Suhasini Raj,, 5 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'instruct.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near instruct

Cite this Entry

“Instruct.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


in·​struct in-ˈstrəkt How to pronounce instruct (audio)
: to give knowledge to : teach
the tutor instructs him in math
: to give information to : inform
instructed us that the cafeteria was downstairs
: to give directions or commands to
instructed her to arrive promptly

Legal Definition


transitive verb
: 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 manslaughterW. R. LaFave and A. W. Scott, Jr.

More from Merriam-Webster on instruct

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