Definition of dictation in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /dɪkˈteɪʃ(ə)n/


[mass noun]
1The action of dictating words to be typed, written down, or recorded on tape: the dictation of letters
More example sentences
  • For dictation and voice recording, flash memory meant an end to problems associated with tape media (such as tapes being lost in mounds of paperwork or chewed up by the recording mechanism).
  • It often accompanies me on research trips, taking down my on-the-spot impressions of the street in Rome where Morse lived, my undercover dictation of some letter displayed for sale in a manuscript dealer's shop.
  • First, songs that occur in more than one manuscript source often do so in highly variant states that suggest they were written down from memory or by dictation, not copied from other manuscripts.
1.1The activity of taking down a passage that is dictated by a teacher as a test of spelling, writing, or language skills: passages for dictation
More example sentences
  • Items that might be selected for inclusion from Figure 1 include pictures of classroom activities, children's dictations, or children's responses to new educational materials concerning diversity.
  • Mr. Fillon presented a very traditional pedagogical message: it is necessary, the Minister repeated, for middle school teachers to rely much more frequently on dictations, compositions, recitations, and grammar exercises.
  • The spelling test used standard dictation format in which the examiner said the word, then a sentence containing the word, and then repeated the word.
1.2Words that are dictated: the job will involve taking dictation, drafting letters, and arranging meetings
More example sentences
  • She had served for years as Hitler's secretary, taking dictation of his personal and political/military letters, but she neither saw nor heard the tragic truth.
  • Each day, she takes dictation, types letters on a big old Selectric, makes coffee, and, on occasion, ‘freshens up’ the mousetrap.
  • They will, obviously, take dictation from Bremer or his successor and not from the figure-head ‘Ministers'.
2The action of giving orders authoritatively or categorically.
Example sentences
  • An autonomous body that must not, and will not, take dictation from any other local authority.
  • They felt that such a measure would ‘take away the power of control of currency and dictation of it from Whitehall from six thousand miles away‘.
  • We will not accept dictation from anybody as to how our conference is organised.


Mid 17th century (in sense 2): from late Latin dictatio(n-), from the verb dictare (see dictate).

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: dic|ta¦tion

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.