verb (used with object)

to furnish with knowledge, especially by a systematic method; teach; train; educate.
to furnish with orders or directions; direct; order; command: The doctor instructed me to diet.
to furnish with information; inform; apprise.
Law. (of a judge) to guide (a jury) by outlining the legal principles involved in the case under consideration.

Origin of instruct

1375–1425; late Middle English < Latin instructus past participle of instruere to equip, train, set in order, equivalent to in- in-2 + struc- (variant stem of struere to put together) + -tus past participle suffix
Related formsin·struct·ed·ly, adverbin·struct·ed·ness, nounin·struct·i·ble, adjectivemis·in·struct, verb (used with object)o·ver·in·struct, verb (used with object)pre·in·struct, verb (used with object)qua·si-in·struct·ed, adjectivere·in·struct, verb (used with object)self-in·struct·ed, adjectiveself-in·struct·ing, adjectiveun·in·struct·i·ble, adjectiveun·in·struct·ing, adjectivewell-in·struct·ed, adjective

Synonym study

1. See teach.

Synonyms for instruct Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for instruct

Contemporary Examples of instruct

Historical Examples of instruct

  • He was now to be sent into the forecastle, and was ordered to instruct me in my duty.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • Pray for him; instruct him; pour light into the darkness of his mind.

  • I will instruct thee, and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go.'

  • Alice frequently thought it necessary to instruct her mother.

    Alice Adams

    Booth Tarkington

  • He told his assistant to instruct Frank where to go and what to do.

British Dictionary definitions for instruct


verb (tr)

to direct to do something; order
to teach (someone) how to do (something)
to furnish with information; apprise
law, mainly British
  1. (esp of a client to his solicitor or a solicitor to a barrister) to give relevant facts or information to
  2. to authorize (a barrister or solicitor) to conduct a case on a person's behalfto instruct counsel
Derived Formsinstructible, adjective

Word Origin for instruct

C15: from Latin instruere to construct, set in order, equip, teach, from struere to build
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

Word Origin and History for instruct

early 15c., from Latin instructus, past participle of instruere "arrange, inform, teach," literally "to build, erect," from in- "on" (see in- (2)) + struere "to pile, build" (see structure (n.)). Related: Instructed; instructing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper