[ kuhn-trohl ]
/ kənˈtroʊl /
Save This Word!
See synonyms for: control / controlled / controlling / controls on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object), con·trolled, con·trol·ling.
Verb Phrases
control for, Statistics. to account for (variables in an analysis) by limiting the data under consideration to a comparison of like things: to control for demographic factors.
There are grammar debates that never die; and the ones highlighted in the questions in this quiz are sure to rile everyone up once again. Do you know how to answer the questions that cause some of the greatest grammar debates?
Question 1 of 7
Which sentence is correct?

Origin of control

First recorded in 1425–75; late Middle English co(u)ntrollen (verb), from Anglo-French contreroller “to keep a duplicate account or roll,” derivative of contrerolle (noun); see counter-, roll


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does control mean?

To control is to dominate or command something or someone, as in Tomas showed excellent control of his hand several weeks after his surgery.

As a noun, control can refer to the act of controlling, as in I can’t stand it—my parents have total control over my life!

To control is also to restrain or keep in check, as in Toddlers are not known for control over their emotions.

Control can also refer to keeping something in check. When you keep your emotions under control, you still feel them but you don’t let them overwhelm you.

To control can also mean to eliminate the spread of something, such as with a fire or an illness.

In statistics, to control for means to compare only like data to reduce the number of variables in the comparison.

Example: Who has control of the lights for tonight’s show?

Where does control come from?

The first records of the term control come from the 1400s. It ultimately comes from the Anglo-French contreroller, meaning “to keep a duplicate roll of.”

In the sciences, control takes on another specific definition, meaning “a person, object, or group that is kept in a constant, unchanging state throughout the experiment.” In order to test if an independent variable was actually the cause for a change, a control group that doesn’t have the independent variable is created. This way, the results of both the control group and the testing group can be compared.

Did you know 

What are some other forms related to control?

  • controllable (adjective, noun)
  • controllability (noun)
  • controllably (adverb)
  • controlled (adjective, verb)

What are some synonyms for control?

What are some words that share a root or word element with control?

What are some words that often get used in discussing control?

How is control used in real life?

Control is a common word used to talk about command or restriction in many situations.


Try using control!

Is control used correctly in the following sentence?

My parents gave me control over my college fund, so now I can withdraw money for tuition.


What are other ways to say control?

The noun control means “domination or command.” How is control different from authority and influence? Find out on Thesaurus.com. 

How to use control in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for control

/ (kənˈtrəʊl) /

verb -trols, -trolling or -trolled (tr)

Derived forms of control

controllable, adjectivecontrollability or controllableness, nouncontrollably, adverb

Word Origin for control

C15: from Old French conteroller to regulate, from contrerolle duplicate register, system of checking, from contre- counter- + rolle roll
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Scientific definitions for control

[ kən-trƍlâ€Č ]

A standard of comparison for checking or verifying the results of an experiment. In an experiment to test the effectiveness of a new drug, for example, one group of subjects (the control group) receives an inactive substance or placebo , while a comparison group receives the drug being tested.
The American HeritageŸ Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Other Idioms and Phrases with control


see out of control; spin control.

The American HeritageŸ Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.