Definition of dictate in English:

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Pronunciation: /dɪkˈteɪt/
[with object]
1State or order authoritatively: the tsar’s attempts to dictate policy [no object]: that doesn’t give you the right to dictate to me
More example sentences
  • Anything else smacks of ‘elitism’, the paternalist attempt by some to dictate to others what they ought to want.
  • But the drastic measures were attacked last night as the latest attempt to dictate to parents how they should bring up their children.
  • We no longer practice in a paternalistic system where medical authorities dictate to patients what is in their interests.
give orders to, order about/around, boss (about/around), impose one's will on, lord it over, bully, domineer, dominate, tyrannize, oppress, ride roughshod over, control, pressurize, browbeat;
lay down the law, act the tin god
informal push around/about, bulldoze, walk all over
call the shots, throw one's weight about/around
1.1Control or decisively affect; determine: choice is often dictated by availability [no object]: a review process can be changed as circumstances dictate
More example sentences
  • The decisions that directly determine our present and dictate our future are made elsewhere.
  • That makes editors toe the line dictated by interests financially controlling the publication.
  • These results suggest that the lens dictates craniofacial morphology by controlling eye growth.
prescribe, lay down, impose, set down, set out;
order, command, decree, ordain, direct, pronounce, enjoin, promulgate;
determine, decide, influence, affect, choose, control, govern
2Say or read aloud (words to be typed, written down, or recorded on tape): I have four letters to dictate
More example sentences
  • His nurse took pity on him and agreed to write a letter for Daniel as he dictated the words, the last letter from a dying soldier to his family.
  • The basis of Islam is the belief that Mohammed regularly went into a state of trance and heard a voice dictating Allah's own words.
  • I don't have anything to file, I've never dictated a word, and so far, I try very hard to write this column by myself.
say aloud, utter, speak, read out, read aloud, recite


Pronunciation: /ˈdɪkteɪt/
(usually dictates)
An order or principle that must be obeyed: the dictates of fashion
More example sentences
  • In any case, there is only one never changing rule: all news publication must obey the dictates of the Propaganda Department.
  • The requirements include very specific dictates on what information must be provided and when, how many course hours must be taken, and how those hours must be completed.
  • Surely it is unfair to say that marriage may be reformed for the sake of anyone and everyone except homosexuals, who must respect the dictates of tradition.
order, command, decree, edict, rule, ruling, ordinance, dictum, directive, direction, instruction, pronouncement, mandate, requirement, stipulation, injunction, ultimatum, demand, exhortation;
(dictates) bidding, request, charge, promulgation;
in Tsarist Russia ukase;
in Spanish-speaking countries pronunciamento
informal say-so
literary behest
archaic hest
rare rescript
principle, guiding principle, code, canon, law, rule, regulation, precept, dictum, axiom, maxim


Late 16th century (in sense 2 of the verb): from Latin dictat- 'dictated', from the verb dictare.

  • verdict from Middle English:

    After the Norman Conquest, French became the language of the law in England and many French legal terms made their way into English. Verdict came immediately from French, but goes back to Latin verus ‘true’, source also of verify (Middle English), veritable (Late Middle English), and very (Middle English), and dicere ‘to say’, from which addict (mid 16th century) originally ‘assigned by decree’ and so bound to something; condition (Middle English) speaking with, agreement; contradiction (Late Middle English) ‘speaking against’; dictate (early 17th century); predict (late 16th century) ‘speaking in advance’; and numerous other words derive.

Words that rhyme with dictate

abate, ablate, aerate, ait, await, backdate, bait, bate, berate, castrate, collate, conflate, crate, create, cremate, date, deflate, dilate, distraite, donate, downstate, eight, elate, equate, estate, fate, fête, fixate, freight, frustrate, gait, gate, gestate, gradate, grate, great, gyrate, hate, hydrate, inflate, innate, interrelate, interstate, irate, Kate, Kuwait, lactate, late, locate, lustrate, mandate, mate, migrate, misdate, misstate, mistranslate, mutate, narrate, negate, notate, orate, ornate, Pate, placate, plate, prate, prorate, prostrate, pulsate, pupate, quadrate, rate, rotate, sate, sedate, serrate, short weight, skate, slate, spate, spectate, spruit, stagnate, state, straight, strait, Tate, tête-à-tête, Thwaite, translate, translocate, transmigrate, truncate, underrate, understate, underweight, update, uprate, upstate, up-to-date, vacate, vibrate, wait, weight

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: dic|tate

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