verb (used with object), con·trolled, con·trol·ling.

  1. to exercise restraint or direction over; dominate; command: The car is difficult to control at high speeds. That zone is controlled by enemy troops.
  2. to hold in check; curb: to control a horse; to control one’s emotions.
  3. to test or verify (a scientific experiment) by a parallel experiment or other standard of comparison.
  4. to eliminate or prevent the flourishing or spread of: to control a forest fire.
  5. Obsolete. to check or regulate (transactions), originally by means of a duplicate register.


  1. the act or power of controlling; regulation; domination or command: Who’s in control here?
  2. the situation of being under the regulation, domination, or command of another: The car is out of control.
  3. check or restraint: Her anger is under control.
  4. a legal or official means of regulation or restraint: to institute wage and price controls.
  5. Statistics. control variable(def 1).
  6. a person who acts as a check; controller.
  7. a device for regulating and guiding a machine, as a motor or airplane.
  8. controls, a coordinated arrangement of such devices.
  9. prevention of the flourishing or spread of something undesirable: rodent control.
  10. Baseball. the ability of a pitcher to throw the ball into the strike zone consistently: The rookie pitcher has great power but no control.
  11. Philately. any device printed on a postage or revenue stamp to authenticate it as a government issue or to identify it for bookkeeping purposes.
  12. a spiritual agency believed to assist a medium at a séance.
  13. the supervisor to whom an espionage agent reports when in the field.

Verb Phrases

  1. control for, Statistics. to account for (variables in an analysis) by limiting the data under consideration to a comparison of like things: to control for demographic factors.


  1. not controlled or regulated; uncurbed

verb -trols, -trolling or -trolled (tr)

  1. to command, direct, or ruleto control a country
  2. to check, limit, curb, or regulate; restrainto control one’s emotions; to control a fire
  3. to regulate or operate (a machine)
  4. to verify (a scientific experiment) by conducting a parallel experiment in which the variable being investigated is held constant or is compared with a standard
    1. to regulate (financial affairs)
    2. to examine and verify (financial accounts)
  5. to restrict or regulate the authorized supply of (certain substances, such as drugs)


  1. power to direct or determineunder control; out of control
  2. a means of regulation or restraint; curb; checka frontier control
  3. (often plural) a device or mechanism for operating a car, aircraft, etc
  4. a standard of comparison used in a statistical analysis or scientific experiment
    1. a device that regulates the operation of a machine. A dynamic control is one that incorporates a governor so that it responds to the output of the machine it regulates
    2. (as modifier)control panel; control room
  5. spiritualism an agency believed to assist the medium in a séance
  6. Also called: control mark a letter, or letter and number, printed on a sheet of postage stamps, indicating authenticity, date, and series of issue
  7. one of a number of checkpoints on a car rally, orienteering course, etc, where competitors check in and their time, performance, etc, is recorded

adj.1510s, from un- (1) “not” + past participle of control (v.). v.early 14c., “to check, verify, regulate,” from Anglo-French contreroller “exert authority,” from Medieval Latin contrarotulus “a counter, register,” from Latin contra- “against” (see contra) + rotulus, diminutive of rota “wheel” (see roll (n.)). From a medieval method of checking accounts by a duplicate register. Sense of “dominate, direct” is mid-15c. Related: Controlled; controlling. Control group in scientific experiments is attested from 1952 (from a sense of control attested since 1875). n.1580s, from control (v.). Control freak is late 1960s slang. v.

  1. To verify or regulate a scientific experiment by conducting a parallel experiment or by comparing with another standard.
  2. To hold in restraint; check.


  1. A standard of comparison for checking or verifying the results of an experiment.
  2. An individual or group used as a standard of comparison in a control experiment.

  1. A standard of comparison for checking or verifying the results of an experiment. In an experiment to test the effectiveness of a new drug, for example, one group of subjects (the control group) receives an inactive substance or placebo , while a comparison group receives the drug being tested.

see out of control; spin control.

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