verb (used with object), in·sti·tut·ed, in·sti·tut·ing.

  1. to set up; establish; organize: to institute a government.
  2. to inaugurate; initiate; start: to institute a new course in American literature.
  3. to set in operation: to institute a lawsuit.
  4. to bring into use or practice: to institute laws.
  5. to establish in an office or position.
  6. Ecclesiastical. to assign to or invest with a spiritual charge, as of a parish.


  1. a society or organization for carrying on a particular work, as of a literary, scientific, or educational character.
  2. the building occupied by such a society.
  3. Education.
    1. an institution, generally beyond the secondary school level, devoted to instruction in technical subjects, usually separate but sometimes organized as a part of a university.
    2. a unit within a university organized for advanced instruction and research in a relatively narrow field of subject matter.
    3. a short instructional program set up for a special group interested in a specialized field or subject.
  4. an established principle, law, custom, or organization.
  5. institutes,
    1. an elementary textbook of law designed for beginners.
    2. (initial capital letter)Also called Institutes of elementary treatise on Roman law in four books, forming one of the four divisions of the Corpus Juris Civilis.
  6. something instituted.

verb (tr)

  1. to organize; establish
  2. to initiateto institute a practice
  3. to establish in a position or office; induct
  4. (foll by in or into) to install (a clergyman) in a church


  1. an organization founded for particular work, such as education, promotion of the arts, or scientific research
  2. the building where such an organization is situated
  3. something instituted, esp a rule, custom, or precedent

early 14c., “to establish in office, appoint,” from Latin institutus, past participle of instituere “to set up,” from in- “in” (see in- (2)) + statuere “establish, to cause to stand,” from PIE root *sta- “to stand,” with derivatives meaning “place or thing that is standing” (see stet). General sense of “set up, found, introduce” first attested late 15c. Related: Instituted; instituting.


1510s, “purpose, design,” from institute (v.). From 1540s as “an established law.” The sense of “organization, society” is from 1828, borrowed from French Institut national des Sciences et des Arts, established 1795 to replace the royal academies, from Latin institutum, neuter past participle of instituere.

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