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

cold snap

a short period of cold weather

Word of the Day

Cleavage proves divisive in Cambridge’s words of 2014

by Alastair Horne,
December 19, 2014
​​​​ Other dictionaries may choose faddish novelties as their words of the year, but here at Cambridge, we like to do something different. We look for the words that have seen sudden surges in searches over the course of the year – words that have been baffling users of English and driven them

Read More 

cinderella surgery noun

December 15, 2014
cosmetic surgery to the feet We have all heard of people having nose jobs, boob jobs and liposuction – but now a new trend growing in popularity in America: Cinderella surgery.

Read More