Definition of control in English:

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Pronunciation: /kənˈtrōl/


1The power to influence or direct people’s behavior or the course of events: the whole operation is under the control of a production manager the situation was slipping out of her control
More example sentences
  • The fact that they failed to do so was dictated to some degree by events outside their direct control.
  • It is doubtful whether he had any particular control over the course of events.
  • The director would not have day-to-day control or financial power over the other agencies.
1.1The ability to manage a machine, vehicle, or other moving object: he lost control of his car improve your ball control
More example sentences
  • Parked cars were damaged when the driver of a car lost control on a roundabout and collided with them yesterday.
  • It is understood that around 10 am, the driver of the car lost control after colliding with a lorry.
  • Last December a car lost control and hit the wall near the village hall.
1.2The restriction of an activity, tendency, or phenomenon: pest control
More example sentences
  • Their fields of activity include soil conservation, gardening, and natural pest control.
  • To continue, hunts would have to meet the twin tests of preventing cruelty and being necessary for pest control.
  • Severely infested grains and cheese usually require fumigation to achieve control of these pests.
1.3The power to restrain something, especially one’s own emotions or actions: give children time to get control of their emotions
More example sentences
  • He says that no matter how tough these guys appear there often comes a time when they lose control of their emotions.
  • Sometimes I think that it would be good to be one of those people who are in total control of their emotions.
  • She knew she was losing control over her emotions.
1.4 (often controls) A means of limiting or regulating something: growing controls on local spending
More example sentences
  • The market will become unfettered by regulation - the modest controls on the internet to protect consumers, for example, are to be dumped on the grounds that they impose burdens on business.
  • The department, which is responsible for official controls on animal feed, did not disclose where the contaminated premixture was found.
  • In the 1920s the state imposed controls on freight charges.
1.5A switch or other device by which a machine is regulated: the volume control
More example sentences
  • Even the cheapest alarms have an on/off switch and a volume control, something that many people seem to forget.
  • Voice dialling and other key phone functions can be activated using the vehicles' steering wheel controls.
  • Many complain that the modern car is home to a confusing and unnecessary multitude of buttons, switches and controls.
switch, knob, button, dial, handle, lever
1.6The place where a particular item is verified: passport control
More example sentences
  • All this means is that passport control can verify that you are who you say you are.
  • In the shop after passport control, some goods were being sold at high-street prices.
  • If you get your visa in the UK before you go, you can skip this queue, go direct to passport control and be first in the baggage reclaim queue.
headquarters, HQ, base, center of operations, command post, nerve center
1.7The base from which a system or activity is directed: communications could be established with central control mission control
More example sentences
  • Our reporter is at mission control in Houston.
  • How do you stay calm in mission control when the lives of human beings rest on the decisions you will make next?
  • All the monitors in mission control blacked out.
1.8 Bridge A high card that will prevent opponents from establishing a particular suit.
1.9 Computing short for control key.
Example sentences
  • Now hit Control + E three times.
  • is there a way to disable the windows key (to the right of the left control) on the keyboard?
  • Later we can use CONTROL to remove colours and SHIFT to add them.
2 Statistics A group or individual used as a standard of comparison for checking the results of a survey or experiment: they saw no difference between the cancer patients and the controls
More example sentences
  • Intact leaves selected the evening before the experiments served as controls.
  • Compared with controls, significant results remained for deliberate self-harm in moderately and severely victimized individuals.
  • Dr Duncan found that only one of the groups, the third group, showed any apparent effect in comparison with the control group.
3A member of an intelligence organization who personally directs the activities of a spy.
Example sentences
  • The title refers to the time when an outside spy has to ‘come in from the cold’ and take a sedentary job as another spy's control or even some menial desk assignment until the mandatory age limit forces retirement.
  • Blunt joined MI5, now allowing him to expand his services beyond recruiting and giving him opportunities to transmit secret documents to his KGB control.
  • He detests the amorality of his C.I.A. control.

verb (controls, controlling, controlled)

1 [with object] Determine the behavior or supervise the running of: he was appointed to control the company’s marketing strategy
More example sentences
  • In addition to the presidential race, November's election will determine which party controls the next Congress.
  • A small number of states could determine which party controls the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
  • If the election is as tight as it promises to be, they could well determine who controls the US Senate.
command, rule, govern, lead, dominate, hold sway over, be at the helm
informal head up, be in the driver's seat, run the show
1.1Maintain influence or authority over: you shouldn’t have dogs if you can’t control them
More example sentences
  • The whole point of a blog is that its author controls its content.
  • In London, many people defied a request by police to avoid meeting in Trafalgar Square, where authorities often have trouble controlling the rowdier celebrants.
  • By controlling influential committees, the Prime Minister can also ensure that he drives the policies of these committees.
1.2Limit the level, intensity, or numbers of: he had to control his temper
More example sentences
  • By tightly controlling your blood sugar levels, intensive insulin therapy can help prevent long-term diabetes complications such as kidney damage.
  • Mr Keaney said noise and dust generated by the quarry could be controlled by conditions limiting the hours of operation and the cleaning of the public roads.
  • He also called upon the citizens to launch a green revolution to control increasing pollution levels in the City.
limit, restrict, curb, cap, constrain
informal put the brakes on
1.3 (control oneself) Remain calm and reasonable despite provocation: he made an effort to control himself
More example sentences
  • I was walking away, thinking how silly I was to have reacted like that, next time I should be calmer, and control myself.
  • Section 3 requires that the accused should have made reasonable efforts to control himself within the limits of what he is reasonably able to do.
  • Visibly struggling to control himself, he finally calmed down somewhat and began to pace.
1.4Regulate (a mechanical or scientific process): the airflow is controlled by a fan
More example sentences
  • Scientists believe they will be able to develop treatments for deafness due to the discovery of the gene they believe controls the process that enables us to hear.
  • The researchers' initial goal was to learn what controls this process.
  • This aspect of the process was controlled through separate instrumentation.
1.5 (as adjective controlled) (Of a drug) restricted by law with respect to use and possession: a sentence for possessing controlled substances
More example sentences
  • This would mean that a controlled drug could not be changed to a restricted substance without the controlled drug classification being removed by Parliament first.
  • On 6th September 1996 he had been sentenced to three years' imprisonment for possession of a controlled drug with intent to supply.
  • However, late in the day police began to wind down the operation after arresting a man for possession of controlled drugs.
2 [no object] Statistics (control for) Take into account (an extraneous factor that might affect results) when performing an experiment: no attempt was made to control for variations (as adjective controlled) a controlled trial
More example sentences
  • However, dialect was not a significant predictor of male mating success when controlling for other factors that might affect paternity.
  • When researchers controlled for socioeconomic factors, the differences were more subtle but still there.
  • The within-subjects design of this experiment controls for any differences in sex and age.
2.1Check; verify.
Example sentences
  • This is also the third year that we rigorously controlled the results to check and verify that every vote, totaling more than 20,000, was legitimate.



in control

Able to direct a situation, person, or activity: I felt calm and in control
More example sentences
  • It's all very efficient but strange for me to not be in control of a situation for the first time.
  • People need to feel that they are in control of their health and that what they do directly impinges on it.
  • He can decide on the spur of the moment whether to do a concert or not and is totally in control of his life.

out of control

No longer possible to manage: fires burning out of control
More example sentences
  • They also attended the larger organised events to make sure the fires were not burning out of control.
  • Health service chiefs were accused today of allowing hospital superbugs to run out of control.
  • A motorist whose car spun out of control and smashed into a tree on a country road near York has died in hospital.

under control

(Of a danger or emergency) being dealt with successfully and competently: it took two hours to bring the blaze under control
More example sentences
  • The fire brigade soon had the blaze under control and were able to extinguish it swiftly.
  • Her husband attempted to battle the flames but was forced back and wasn't able to bring it under control.
  • If tax rises are to be avoided, Government spending needs to be brought under control.


Late Middle English (as a verb in the sense 'check or verify accounts', especially by referring to a duplicate register): from Anglo-Norman French contreroller 'keep a copy of a roll of accounts', from medieval Latin contrarotulare, from contrarotulus 'copy of a roll', from contra- 'against' + rotulus 'a roll'. The noun is perhaps via French contrôle.

  • The early sense of this was ‘check or verify accounts’: usually by making reference to a duplicate register. It is from Anglo-Norman French contreroller ‘keep a copy of a roll of accounts’, from Latin contrarotulus ‘copy of a roll’.

Words that rhyme with control

barcarole, bole, bowl, cajole, coal, Cole, condole, console, dhole, dole, droll, enrol (US enroll), extol, foal, goal, hole, Joel, knoll, kohl, mol, mole, Nicole, parol, parole, patrol, pole, poll, prole, rôle, roll, scroll, Seoul, shoal, skoal, sole, soul, stole, stroll, thole, Tirol, toad-in-the-hole, toll, troll, vole, whole

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: con·trol

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