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verb (used with object), reg·u·lat·ed, reg·u·lat·ing.
  1. to control or direct by a rule, principle, method, etc.: to regulate household expenses.
  2. to adjust to some standard or requirement, as amount, degree, etc.: to regulate the temperature.
  3. to adjust so as to ensure accuracy of operation: to regulate a watch.
  4. to put in good order: to regulate the digestion.

Origin of regulate

First recorded in 1620–30, regulate is from the Late Latin word rēgulātus (past participle of rēgulāre). See regula, -ate1
Related formsreg·u·la·tive [reg-yuh-ley-tiv, -yuh-luh-tiv] /ˈrɛg yəˌleɪ tɪv, -yə lə tɪv/, reg·u·la·to·ry [reg-yuh-luh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] /ˈrɛg yə ləˌtɔr i, -ˌtoʊr i/, adjectivereg·u·la·tive·ly, adverban·ti·reg·u·la·to·ry, adjectivemis·reg·u·late, verb (used with object), mis·reg·u·lat·ed, mis·reg·u·lat·ing.non·reg·u·lat·ed, adjectivenon·reg·u·la·tive, adjectivenon·reg·u·la·to·ry, adjectiveo·ver·reg·u·late, verb, o·ver·reg·u·lat·ed, o·ver·reg·u·lat·ing.pre·reg·u·late, verb (used with object), pre·reg·u·lat·ed, pre·reg·u·lat·ing.qua·si-reg·u·lat·ed, adjectivere·reg·u·late, verb (used with object), re·reg·u·lat·ed, re·reg·u·lat·ing.un·reg·u·lat·ed, adjectiveun·reg·u·la·tive, adjectiveun·reg·u·la·to·ry, adjectivewell-reg·u·lat·ed, adjective

Synonyms for regulate

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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British Dictionary definitions for regulate


verb (tr)
  1. to adjust (the amount of heat, sound, etc, of something) as required; control
  2. to adjust (an instrument or appliance) so that it operates correctly
  3. to bring into conformity with a rule, principle, or usage
Derived Formsregulative or regulatory, adjectiveregulatively, adverb

Word Origin for regulate

C17: from Late Latin rēgulāre to control, from Latin rēgula a ruler
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 regulate

early 15c., "adjust by rule, control," from Late Latin regulatus, past participle of regulare "to control by rule, direct," from Latin regula "rule" (see regular). Meaning "to govern by restriction" is from 1620s. Related: Regulated; regulating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

regulate in Medicine


  1. To control or direct according to rule, principle, or law.
  2. To adjust to a particular specification or requirement.
  3. To adjust a mechanism for accurate and proper functioning.
  4. To put or maintain in order.
Related formsregu•la′tive null adj.regu•la′tor n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.