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.

verb (dɪkˈteɪt)

  1. to say (messages, letters, speeches, etc) aloud for mechanical recording or verbatim transcription by another person
  2. (tr) to prescribe (commands) authoritatively
  3. (intr) to act in a tyrannical manner; seek to impose one’s will on others

noun (ˈdɪkteɪt)

  1. an authoritative command
  2. a guiding principle or rulethe dictates of reason

1590s, “to practice dictation, say aloud for another to write down,” from Latin dictatus, past participle of dictare “say often, prescribe,” frequentative of dicere “tell, say” (see diction). Sense of “to command” is 1620s. Related: Dictated; dictates; dictating.


1590s, from Latin dictatum “something dictated,” noun use of neuter past participle of dictare (see dictate (v.)).

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