Dictation definition

Noun [dik-ˈtā-shən, dik-tey-shuhn]
Meaning: The definition of dictation is the act of saying words that will be transcribed, or an authoritative direction or instruction. The word dictation can also refer to the text or document that is produced from this act. When you dictate something, you are saying it aloud for someone else to write down.

Dictation definition
Dictation definition

Example sentences

"Can you dictate a letter for me while I drive?"

"I'm not going to dictate how you live your life, but I would appreciate it if you would clean up your room."

Word history


Did you know that the word "dictation" has a fascinating history? The word comes from the Latin verb dictare (dictātiōn-, dictātiō), which means "to say repeatedly." This makes perfect sense, as the act of dictating is simply repeating something out loud so that someone else can write it down.

Interestingly, the Latin verb dictare can also mean "to impose one's will on others." This second meaning is likely the origin of the English word "dictator," which first appeared in the early 1600s. A dictator is someone who rules with absolute power, often in an unjust or oppressive way.

Today, dictation is often used in speech recognition software. When you dictate, you speak and the computer types what you say.

First known use

The first known use of the word "dictation" was in the 15th century.

Phrases containing dictation

There are a number of different phrases that contain the word dictation, each with its own distinct meaning. Here are just a few examples:

  • Dictation software: This is a type of software that allows you to record your voice and then transcribe it into text. This can be useful for taking notes or creating meeting minutes.
  • Dictate orders: When someone dictates orders, they are giving out commands or instructions that must be followed. This could be done in a work setting, for example, or in a more general sense when telling someone what needs to be done.
  • Dictate terms: To dictate terms is to set the conditions or rules of something. This could apply to anything from business negotiations to the terms of a contract.

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