Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “dictate”

See all translations

dictate

verb uk   /dɪkˈteɪt/ us    /ˈdɪk.teɪt/

dictate verb (GIVE ORDERS)

C1 [I or T] to give orders, or tell someone exactly what they must do, with total authority: The UN will dictate the terms of troop withdrawal from the region. [+ question word] He disagrees with the government dictating what children are taught in schools. [+ that] The rules dictate that only running shoes must be worn on the track. [T] to influence something or make it necessary: The party's change of policy has been dictated by its need to win back younger voters. [+ that] I wanted to take a year off, but my financial situation dictated that I got a job.
More examples

dictate verb (SPEAK)

[I or T] to speak something aloud for a person or machine to record what is said, so that it can be written down: I dictated my order over the phone. She spent the morning dictating letters to her secretary.
Phrasal verbs

dictate

noun [C usually plural] uk   /ˈdɪk.teɪt/ formal us  
an order that should be obeyed, often one that you give to yourself: the dictates of conscience/common sense
Compare
(Definition of dictate from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
What is the pronunciation of dictate?
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

Definitions of “dictate” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

piglet

a baby pig

Word of the Day

I won’t tolerate it! Replacing formal words with phrasal verbs.

by Liz Walter,
April 01, 2015
When you are using a language, it is important to understand if a word is formal or informal, so that you can use it in an appropriate way. You might hear people saying dosh for money, or spud for potato, but they wouldn’t write those words in a formal essay. Similarly, a

Read More 

stackin’ p

March 30, 2015
idiom slang earning a lot of money ‘That’s a very generous present.”Yeah, well, she’s stackin’ p, innit?’

Read More