To have control is to have the power to run something in an orderly way. A skillful teacher maintains control over students who might otherwise waste time or be disruptive.

A control can also be a device used to operate a machine, like the remote control for a television. The control in an experiment is the group that gets left alone so scientists can compare "before and after" changes in other groups. The verb control means "to be in charge." If you're a group's treasurer, you control its finances. It can also mean "hold back." You might need to control your hyperactive puppy when the mail carrier comes around.

Primary Meanings of control

power to direct or determine
exercise authoritative control or power over
a standard against which other conditions can be compared in a scientific experiment
check or regulate (a scientific experiment) by conducting a parallel experiment or comparing with another standard
discipline in personal and social activities
lessen the intensity of; temper; hold in restraint; hold or keep within limits
great skillfulness and knowledge of some subject or activity
have a firm understanding or knowledge of; be on top of
a spiritual agency that is assumed to assist the medium during a seance
verify by using a duplicate register for comparison
Full Definitions of control

n power to direct or determine

“under control
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authorisation, authority, authorization, dominance, potency, say-so
the power or right to give orders or make decisions
control of a state or organization by large interest groups
power by which something or someone is affected or dominated
iron fist
rigorous or ruthless control
any means of control
power of appointment
authority given (in a will or deed) by a donor to a donee to appoint the beneficiaries of the donor's property
carte blanche
complete freedom or authority to act
the power or authority to command
supreme authority; absolute dominion
the authority of a lord
authority or power or force (especially when used in a coercive way)
the authority of a state to govern another state
Type of:
power, powerfulness
possession of controlling influence

n a relation of constraint of one entity (thing or person or group) by another

“measures for the control of disease”
“they instituted controls over drinking on campus”
Type of:
an abstraction belonging to or characteristic of two entities or parts together

n the state that exists when one person or group has power over another

ascendance, ascendancy, ascendence, ascendency, dominance
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ascendant, ascendent
position or state of being dominant or in control
domination, mastery, supremacy
power to dominate or defeat
predominance, predomination, prepotency
the state of being predominant over others
dominion, rule
dominance or power through legal authority
the state of being controlled or governed
absolutism, despotism, tyranny
dominance through threat of punishment and violence
exclusive control or possession of something
superiority, transcendence, transcendency
the state of excelling or surpassing or going beyond usual limits
the state of being paramount; the highest rank or authority
British dominion over India (1757-1947)
reign, sovereignty
royal authority; the dominion of a monarch
the position or authority of a suzerain
Type of:
condition, status
a state at a particular time

n the activity of managing or exerting control over something

“the control of the mob by the police was admirable”
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the act of repressing; control by holding down
crowd control
activity of controlling a crowd
damage control
an effort to minimize or curtail damage or loss
federalisation, federalization
the act of being put under federal control
flight control
control from ground stations of airplanes in flight by means of messages transmitted to the pilot electronically
flood control
(engineering) the art or technique of trying to control rivers with dams etc in order to minimize the occurrence of floods
any instance of aggressive extension of authority
regulating, regulation
the act of controlling or directing according to rule
internal control
an accounting procedure or system designed to promote efficiency or assure the implementation of a policy or safeguard assets or avoid fraud and error etc.
regularisation, regularization, regulation
the act of bringing to uniformity; making regular
ownership, possession
the act of having and controlling property
(sport) the act of controlling the ball (or puck)
power trip
(slang) a self-aggrandizing action undertaken simply for the pleasure of exercising control over other people
riot control, riot control operation
the measures taken to control a riot
grasping, prehension, seizing, taking hold
the act of gripping something firmly with the hands (or the tentacles)
steerage, steering
the act of steering a ship
direction, guidance, steering
the act of setting and holding a course
self-control, self-denial, self-discipline
the act of denying yourself; controlling your impulses
traffic control
control of the flow of traffic in a building or a city
control (by agreement among producers or by government) of the price of a commodity in interstate commerce
the act of controlling by restraining someone or something
the act of controlling and steering the movement of a vehicle or animal
inventory control
supervision of the supply and storage and accessibility of items in order to insure an adequate supply without excessive oversupply
an official lowering of a nation's currency; a decrease in the value of a country's currency relative to that of foreign countries
gun control
efforts to regulate or control sales of guns
a system of economic regulation: wages and interest are tied to the cost-of-living index in order to reduce the effects of inflation
management control
an internal control performed by one or more managers
quality control
maintenance of standards of quality of manufactured goods
the regulation of occurrence, pace, or coordination to achieve a desired effect (as in music, theater, athletics, mechanics)
limitation, restriction
an act of limiting or restricting (as by regulation)
actual possession
(law) immediate and direct physical control over property
constructive possession
(law) having the power and intention to have and control property but without direct control or actual presence upon it
criminal possession
(law) possession for which criminal sanctions are provided because the property may not lawfully be possessed or may not be possessed under certain circumstances
holding, keeping, retention
the act of retaining something
clasp, clench, clutch, clutches, grasp, grip, hold
the act of grasping
the action of directing something at an object
navigation, pilotage, piloting
the guidance of ships or airplanes from place to place
celestial guidance
a method of controlling the flight of a missile or spacecraft by reference to the positions of celestial bodies
inertial guidance, inertial navigation
a method of controlling the flight of a missile by devices that respond to inertial forces
command guidance
a method of controlling the flight of a missile by commands originating from the ground or from another missile
terrestrial guidance
a method of controlling the flight of a missile by devices that respond to the strength and direction of the earth's gravitational field
act or practice of refraining from indulging an appetite
ascesis, asceticism
rigorous self-denial and active self-restraint
(Christianity) the act of mortifying the lusts of the flesh by self-denial and privation (especially by bodily pain or discomfort inflicted on yourself)
point duty
the control of traffic by a policeman stationed at an intersection
collar, leash
a figurative restraint
a depressing restraint
bridle, check, curb
the act of restraining power or action or limiting excess
immobilisation, immobilization, immobilizing
the act of limiting movement or making incapable of movement
the act of restraining of a person's liberty by confining them
the act of containing; keeping something from spreading
curtailment, suppression
the act of withholding or withdrawing some book or writing from publication or circulation
restraint of trade
any act that tends to prevent free competition in business
confinement, restriction
the act of keeping something within specified bounds (by force if necessary)
Type of:
any specific behavior

n the economic policy of controlling or limiting or curbing prices or wages etc.

“they wanted to repeal all the legislation that imposed economic controls
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price control
restriction on maximum prices that is established and maintained by the government (as during periods of war or inflation)
cap, ceiling, roof
an upper limit on what is allowed
base, floor
a lower limit
glass ceiling
a ceiling based on attitudinal or organizational bias in the work force that prevents minorities and women from advancing to leadership positions
price floor
floor below which prices are not allowed to fall
wage floor
floor below which wages are not allowed to fall
Type of:
economic policy
a government policy for maintaining economic growth and tax revenues

n (physiology) regulation or maintenance of a function or action or reflex etc

“the timing and control of his movements were unimpaired”
“he had lost control of his sphincters”
motor control
control of muscles
Type of:
activity, bodily function, bodily process, body process
an organic process that takes place in the body

n a mechanism that controls the operation of a machine

“I turned the controls over to her”
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cruise control
control mechanism for keeping an automobile at a set speed
the control on a radio or television set that is used for tuning
disk controller
(computer science) a circuit or chip that translates commands into a form that can control a hard disk drive
governor, regulator
a control that maintains a steady speed in a machine (as by controlling the supply of fuel)
control consisting of a wheel whose rim serves as the handle by which a part is operated
a manual control consisting of a vertical handle that can move freely in two directions; used as an input device to computers or to devices controlled by computers
any of various controls or devices for regulating or controlling fluid flow, pressure, temperature, etc.
electric switch, electrical switch, switch
control consisting of a mechanical or electrical or electronic device for making or breaking or changing the connections in a circuit
control consisting of a mechanical device for controlling the flow of a fluid
accelerator, throttle, throttle valve
a valve that regulates the supply of fuel to the engine
a device that controls amount of light admitted
ball cock, ballcock
floating ball that controls level in a water tank
ball valve
any valve that checks flow by the seating of a ball
butterfly valve
a valve in a carburetor that consists of a disc that turns and acts as a throttle
a valve that controls the flow of air into the carburetor of a gasoline engine
clack, clack valve, clapper valve
a simple valve with a hinge on one side; allows fluid to flow in only one direction
switch for reversing the direction of an electric current
a switch that interrupts an electric circuit in the event of an overload
a regulator for controlling the flow of air in a fireplace
exhaust valve
a valve through which burned gases from a cylinder escape into the exhaust manifold
faucet, spigot
a regulator for controlling the flow of a liquid from a reservoir
regulator consisting of a heavy wheel that stores kinetic energy and smooths the operation of a reciprocating engine
ignition switch
switch that operates a solenoid that closes a circuit to operate the starter
intake valve
a valve that controls the flow of fluid through an intake
regulator that can be turned to regulate the pitch of the strings of a stringed instrument
regulator consisting of a small cock or faucet or valve for letting out air or releasing compression or draining
poppet, poppet valve
a mushroom-shaped valve that rises perpendicularly from its seat; commonly used in internal-combustion engines
button, push, push button
an electrical switch operated by pressing
a regulator (as a sliding plate) for regulating the flow of air into a furnace or other heating device
escape, escape cock, escape valve, relief valve, safety valve
a valve in a container in which pressure can build up (as a steam boiler); it opens automatically when the pressure reaches a dangerous level
selector, selector switch
a switch that is used to select among alternatives
slide valve
valve that opens and closes a passageway by sliding over a port
floodgate, head gate, penstock, sluice valve, sluicegate, water gate
regulator consisting of a valve or gate that controls the rate of water flow through a sluice
steering wheel, wheel
a handwheel that is used for steering
thermoregulator, thermostat
a regulator for automatically regulating temperature by starting or stopping the supply of heat
three-point switch, three-way switch
an electric switch that has three terminals; used to control a circuit from two different locations
a regulator that activates or deactivates a mechanism at set times
a switch set to operate at a desired time
on-off switch, on/off switch, toggle, toggle switch
a hinged switch that can assume either of two positions
Type of:
device consisting of a piece of machinery; has moving parts that perform some function

v exercise authoritative control or power over

control the budget”
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engage or engross the interest or attention of beforehand or occupy urgently or obsessively
channelise, channelize, direct, guide, head, maneuver, manoeuver, manoeuvre, point, steer
direct the course; determine the direction of travelling
direct (oneself) somewhere
hold one's own
maintain one's position and be in control of a situation
care, deal, handle, manage
be in charge of, act on, or dispose of
internationalise, internationalize
put under international control
take and maintain control over, often by violent means
hold sway
be master; reign or rule
direct or strongly influence the behavior of
subject to rigid discipline, order, and systematization
monopolise, monopolize
have and control fully and exclusively
draw rein, harness, rein, rein in
control and direct with or as if by reins
gain control over
act as president
dominate, master
have dominance or the power to defeat over
becharm, charm
control by magic spells, as by practicing witchcraft
govern, rule
exercise authority over; as of nations
call the shots, call the tune, wear the trousers
exercise authority or be in charge
be in command of
bewitch, enchant, glamour, hex, jinx, witch
cast a spell over someone or something; put a hex on someone or something
maneuver into a dock
ghost, haunt, obsess
haunt like a ghost; pursue
cause to be preoccupied
cause to sheer
pull over
steer a vehicle to the side of the road
be at or take the helm of
direct (an aircraft) into a crosswind
direct carefully and safely
stand out
steer away from shore, of ships
turn to the right, of helms or rudders
conduct or direct the steering of a ship or plane
navigate, pilot
act as the navigator in a car, plane, or vessel and plan, direct, plot the path and position of the conveyance
canalise, canalize, channel
direct the flow of
corner, tree
force a person or an animal into a position from which he cannot escape
maneuver a vehicle into a parking space
administer, administrate
work in an administrative capacity; supervise or be in charge of
organise, organize
cause to be structured or ordered or operating according to some principle or idea
cause to operate or function
come to grips, get to grips
deal with (a problem or a subject)
dispose of
deal with or settle
mind, take care
be in charge of or deal with
bring into common action, movement, or condition
deal with simultaneously
deal with in a routine way
misconduct, mishandle, mismanage
manage badly or incompetently
be in charge of
carry on, conduct, deal
direct the course of; manage or control
subject, subjugate
make subservient; force to submit or subdue
sit on the throne as a ruler
govern badly
rule as a dictator
have sovereign power
deal with; usually used with a form of negation

v be careful or certain to do something; make certain of something

control the quality of the product”
ascertain, assure, check, ensure, insure, see, see to it
check, check off, mark, mark off, tick, tick off
put a check mark on or near or next to
verify by consulting a source or authority
ascertain, check, determine, find out, learn, see, watch
find out, learn, or determine with certainty, usually by making an inquiry or other effort
check or regulate (a scientific experiment) by conducting a parallel experiment or comparing with another standard
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proof, proofread
read for errors
check once more to be absolutely sure
check out conflicting sources; crosscheck facts, for example
make sure of
ask someone for identification to determine whether he or she is old enough to consume liquor
pick out random samples for examination in order to ensure high quality
maintain a check on; especially by patrolling
Type of:
confirm the truth of

v handle and cause to function

control the lever”
have a firm understanding or knowledge of; be on top of
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synchronise, synchronize
operate simultaneously
operate a dial to select a telephone number
alter the functioning or setting of
control a submarine
operate (machinery) by a treadle
control or operate by relay
control with a valve or other device that functions like a gate
operate the pedals on a keyboard instrument
operate or control a vehicle
aviate, fly, pilot
operate an airplane
drive a coach
test drive
test a vehicle by driving it
fly blind
fly an airplane solely by relying on instruments
fly contact
fly a plane by using visible landmarks or points of reference
fly alone, without a co-pilot or passengers
test fly
test a plane
fly a jet plane
fly in or as if in a glider plane
hydroplane, seaplane
glide on the water in a hydroplane
ride in a hot-air balloon
flat-hat, hedgehop
fly very close to the ground
hang glide, soar
fly by means of a hang glider
move by being propelled by a force
Type of:
hold something in one's hands and move it

v control (others or oneself) or influence skillfully, usually to one's advantage

“She is a very controlling mother and doesn't let her children grow up”
keep in line, manipulate
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to arouse hope, desire, or curiosity without satisfying them
show and train
gain favor with somebody by deliberate efforts
cotton up, cozy up, play up, shine up, sidle up, suck up
ingratiate oneself to; often with insincere behavior
Type of:
act together or towards others or with others

n a standard against which other conditions can be compared in a scientific experiment

“the control condition was inappropriate for the conclusions he wished to draw”
control condition
Type of:
criterion, standard
the ideal in terms of which something can be judged

v check or regulate (a scientific experiment) by conducting a parallel experiment or comparing with another standard

“Are you controlling for the temperature?”
ascertain, assure, check, ensure, insure, see, see to it
be careful or certain to do something; make certain of something
Type of:
essay, examine, prove, test, try, try out
put to the test, as for its quality, or give experimental use to

n discipline in personal and social activities

“she never lost control of herself”
the quality of lacking restraint
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self-restraint, temperateness
exhibiting restraint imposed on the self
moderation, temperance
the trait of avoiding excesses
the quality of being inhibited
voluntary control over urinary and fecal discharge
stiff upper lip
self-restraint in the expression of emotion (especially fear or grief)
dryness, sobriety
moderation in or abstinence from alcohol or other drugs
moderation in eating and drinking
taboo, tabu
an inhibition or ban resulting from social custom or emotional aversion
Type of:
the trait of being well behaved

v lessen the intensity of; temper; hold in restraint; hold or keep within limits

control your anger”
check, contain, curb, hold, hold in, moderate
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bound, confine, limit, restrain, restrict, throttle, trammel
place limits on (extent or access)
conquer, curb, inhibit, stamp down, subdue, suppress
to put down by force or authority
restrain or discourage
crucify, mortify, subdue
hold within limits and control
abnegate, deny
deny oneself (something); restrain, especially from indulging in some pleasure
place under restrictions; limit access to
cause to grow in a certain way by tying and pruning it
check oneself during an action
moderate or restrain; lessen the force of
control the temperature with a thermostat
counteract, countercheck
oppose or check by a counteraction
blink, blink away, wink
force to go away by blinking
reduce, tighten
narrow or limit
limit or restrict to
restrict (school boys') movement to the dormitory or campus as a means of punishment
draw a line, draw the line
reasonably object (to) or set a limit (on)
mark off, mark out
set boundaries to and delimit
harness, rein, rule
keep in check
baffle, regulate
check the emission of (sound)
cramp, halter, hamper, strangle
prevent the progress or free movement of
dampen, stifle
smother or suppress
choke back, choke down, choke off
constrain, stiffen, tighten, tighten up
clamp down, crack down
repress or suppress (something regarded as undesirable)
hush, hush up, quieten, shut up, silence, still
cause to be quiet or not talk
limit the range or extent of
get rid of, silence, or suppress
keep from expression, for example by threats or pressure
quell, quench, squelch
suppress or crush completely
constrain, cumber, encumber, restrain
hold back
muffle, repress, smother, stifle, strangle
conceal or hide
practice self-denial of one's body and appetites
declare unavailable, as for security reasons
declare as sacred and forbidden
train on a trellis, as of a vine
scant, skimp
limit in quality or quantity
localise, localize
restrict something to a particular area
Type of:
hold back, keep, keep back, restrain
keep under control; keep in check

n great skillfulness and knowledge of some subject or activity

command, mastery
Type of:
the state of being cognitively skillful

v have a firm understanding or knowledge of; be on top of

“Do you control these data?”
handle and cause to function
get a grip on; get mastery of
Type of:
know how to do or perform something

n a spiritual agency that is assumed to assist the medium during a seance

Type of:
disembodied spirit, spirit
any incorporeal supernatural being that can become visible (or audible) to human beings

v verify by using a duplicate register for comparison

control an account”
Type of:
ascertain, assure, check, ensure, insure, see, see to it
be careful or certain to do something; make certain of something