dictate

When you dictate something, you are giving orders — acting a bit like a dictator.

Dictate can also be used in a broader sense. Weather often dictates how many layers of clothes you wear, and the school rules dictate how you behave in and out of class. In a very different meaning, dictate means to say something out loud to a person or into a machine so it can be recorded. Up until fairly recently, bosses dictated letters and reports to secretaries who wrote them down.

Definitions of dictate
  1. noun
    a guiding principle
    “the dictates of reason”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    principle
    a basic truth or law or assumption
  2. noun
    an authoritative rule
    see moresee less
    type of:
    prescript, rule
    prescribed guide for conduct or action
  3. verb
    issue commands or orders for
    synonyms: order, prescribe
    see moresee less
    types:
    mandate
    make mandatory
    type of:
    bring down, impose, inflict, visit
    impose something unpleasant
  4. verb
    rule as a dictator
    see moresee less
    types:
    grind down, tyrannise, tyrannize
    rule a country as a tyrant
    type of:
    govern, rule
    exercise authority over; as of nations
  5. verb
    say out loud for the purpose of recording
    “He dictated a report to his secretary”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    read
    look at, interpret, and say out loud something that is written or printed
Word Family
EDITOR’S CHOICE

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.

SAT/PSAT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

TOEFL

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

ACT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week