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

n a guiding principle

“the dictates of reason”
Type of:
a basic truth or law or assumption

n an authoritative rule

Type of:
prescript, rule
prescribed guide for conduct or action

v issue commands or orders for

order, prescribe
make mandatory
Type of:
bring down, impose, inflict, visit
impose something unpleasant

v rule as a dictator

grind down, tyrannise, tyrannize
rule a country as a tyrant
Type of:
govern, rule
exercise authority over; as of nations

v say out loud for the purpose of recording

“He dictated a report to his secretary”
Type of:
look at, interpret, and say out loud something that is written or printed

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