[ verb dik-teyt, dik-teyt; noun dik-teyt ]
See synonyms for: dictatedictateddictatesdictating on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object),dic·tat·ed, dic·tat·ing.
  1. to say or read (something) aloud for another person to transcribe or for a machine to record: to dictate some letters to a secretary.

  2. to prescribe or lay down authoritatively or peremptorily; command unconditionally: to dictate peace terms to a conquered enemy.

verb (used without object),dic·tat·ed, dic·tat·ing.
  1. to say or read aloud something to be written down by a person or recorded by a machine.

  2. to give orders.

  1. an authoritative order or command.

  2. a guiding or governing principle, requirement, etc.: to follow the dictates of one's conscience.

Origin of dictate

First recorded in 1585–95; from Latin dictātus “said repeatedly,” past participle of dictāre “to say repeatedly, order, prescribe,” from dīcere “to say, speak, tell”

Other words for dictate

Other words from dictate

  • dic·tat·ing·ly, adverb
  • mis·dic·tat·ed, adjective
  • pre·dic·tate, verb (used with object), pre·dic·tat·ed, pre·dic·tat·ing.
  • re·dic·tate, verb, re·dic·tat·ed, re·dic·tat·ing.
  • un·dic·tat·ed, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use dictate in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for dictate


  1. to say (messages, letters, speeches, etc) aloud for mechanical recording or verbatim transcription by another person

  2. (tr) to prescribe (commands) authoritatively

  1. (intr) to act in a tyrannical manner; seek to impose one's will on others

  1. an authoritative command

  2. a guiding principle or rule: the dictates of reason

Origin of dictate

C17: from Latin dictāre to say repeatedly, order, from dīcere to say

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