Definition of dictation in English:



  • 1The action of dictating words to be typed, written down, or recorded on tape.

    ‘the dictation of letters’
    • ‘Some authorities maintain that they were written by Moses himself at God's dictation.’
    • ‘These sheets are printed on a standard laser printer, and although they are in black-and-white, they are useful to the residents during the dictation of their gross descriptions and for their further workup of the case.’
    • ‘Next time I do a running dictation I'm going to use Paradise Lost as the text.’
    • ‘He knew it long before he started the dictation.’
    • ‘It often accompanies me on research trips, taking down my on-the-spot impressions of the street in Rome where Morse lived, my undercover dictation of some letter displayed for sale in a manuscript dealer's shop.’
    • ‘While it's all good fun, just talking to the computer, particularly if it chooses to do my bidding, dictation is a learned skill.’
    • ‘For dictation and voice recording, flash memory meant an end to problems associated with tape media (such as tapes being lost in mounds of paperwork or chewed up by the recording mechanism).’
    • ‘He sat in the dictation room off of the pediatric intensive care unit dictating the final procedure note.’
    • ‘Therefore, a simple dictation becomes a time-limiting step, with additional need for corrections.’
    • ‘The ‘stating’ here usually consists of intraverbal control, where the source of the intraverbals is conceptual stimulus control, rather than transcription or dictation.’
    • ‘My scribe, Braintree, was in the bed-chamber, quietly awaiting the dictation of this week's Publisher's Message.’
    • ‘This information is transcribed by a dictation service, and the physician reviews this information for accuracy before signing off on the note in the EMR.’
    • ‘First, songs that occur in more than one manuscript source often do so in highly variant states that suggest they were written down from memory or by dictation, not copied from other manuscripts.’
    • ‘Mr Wordsall said that he typed a draft of this letter on 19 December 1998, at Mr Birkett's dictation, on his computer at Groby Road.’
    • ‘I felt the dictation software was working well enough to attempt to write the review with it.’
    • ‘This raises the suspicion that such work resulted from a process of dictation and transcription.’
    • ‘Assuming that James did not really speak to Theodora Bosanquet from beyond the grave, his posthumous dictation presumably came from within her own mind.’
    • ‘I have to speak out the words I want in my head - a bit like silent dictation - and my fingers follow.’
    • ‘On the 4th Defendant's request the referral letter was dated 12 April, the day of dictation.’
    • ‘When Steadman wrote his novel by dictation, I wondered if Theroux had.’
    1. 1.1The activity of taking down a passage that is dictated by a teacher as a test of spelling, writing, or language skills.
      ‘passages for dictation’
      • ‘I remember that at the solfege test, the pianist played the piece once through before the actual dictation began; well, I had already written it all down at that first hearing.’
      • ‘One small boy was writing dictation on the board.’
      • ‘Teachers observed the children, gave dictation, asked them to recite poetry they had learnt by heart, and used plenty of learning material for which they had to read and understand.’
      • ‘Visiting an orphanage where she loved to spend time with the children, she got talking with a lame girl after setting them an exercise in dictation.’
      • ‘So how can it be that educated Dutch and Flemish people still make so many spelling errors that a dictation can be a challenge?’
      • ‘I'm not a big fan of exams, but actually, dictation is not as straightforward as it sounds.’
      • ‘In Experiment 1, scores on the oral dictation spelling test were not significantly correlated with any of the three types of ratings of the authors.’
      • ‘Johnson describes seven benchmarks of writing development, and explains the value of employing dictation, drawing, scribbling, and temporary spelling in early writing programs.’
      • ‘A college freshman theory course also should include sight singing, keyboard harmony, written harmony and dictation, Ehle says.’
      • ‘KitMaker allows you to add your own voice recording that you can use for gap dictation and listening comprehension activities.’
      • ‘A humorous example of this arose when I tried a new dictation program for my computer.’
      • ‘A Polish student has won a week-long trip to Swindon after winning an English dictation competition.’
      • ‘The subjects to be tested by examination were reading, spelling dictation, writing, composition, arithmetic, geography and drawing, and there was a general assessment of efficiency in other subjects.’
      • ‘The school day in St. Etienne-sur-Usson is full of drills, formal exercises and dictation, that staple of French education in which a teacher recites a passage from literature and the students dutifully copy it down.’
      • ‘Today I gave my students the sentence dictation part of their spelling test, and then I had them diagram it for their language quiz.’
      • ‘Items that might be selected for inclusion from Figure 1 include pictures of classroom activities, children's dictations, or children's responses to new educational materials concerning diversity.’
      • ‘The spelling test used standard dictation format in which the examiner said the word, then a sentence containing the word, and then repeated the word.’
      • ‘By the end of the lesson, Ava was already tired of the day; they only did dictation and re-writing passages from books and the board.’
      • ‘This includes help with dictation and pronunciation, along with sections on the basics of English, spelling, grammar and activities such as games, tests and quizzes.’
      • ‘Mr. Fillon presented a very traditional pedagogical message: it is necessary, the Minister repeated, for middle school teachers to rely much more frequently on dictations, compositions, recitations, and grammar exercises.’
    2. 1.2Words that are dictated.
      ‘the job will involve taking dictation, drafting letters, and arranging meetings’
      • ‘At the end of the day which was usually long and arduous she would take dictations from her husband and that is how the Annals came to be first drafted.’
      • ‘Gone are the days when we used to take dictation from the boss and get back with a typewritten fair copy.’
      • ‘When I'm writing, I feel like I'm taking dictation from my characters, but I also know that there's a lot of me in the story.’
      • ‘The book's success was so surprising to Stowe, she claimed that she did not write the book so much as take dictation from God.’
      • ‘They will, obviously, take dictation from Bremer or his successor and not from the figure-head ‘Ministers'.’
      • ‘In any case, there he was stepping out of that big car looking for all the world like he'd just been busy doing the New York Times crossword or taking dictation.’
      • ‘I did, though get a reaction when I asked, in all innocence, if she would take dictation.’
      • ‘His legal career was cut short, however, when a white secretary refused to take dictation from a man of his colour.’
      • ‘She had served for years as Hitler's secretary, taking dictation of his personal and political/military letters, but she neither saw nor heard the tragic truth.’
      • ‘Each day, she takes dictation, types letters on a big old Selectric, makes coffee, and, on occasion, ‘freshens up’ the mousetrap.’
  • 2The action of giving orders authoritatively or categorically.

    • ‘An autonomous body that must not, and will not, take dictation from any other local authority.’
    • ‘They felt that such a measure would ‘take away the power of control of currency and dictation of it from Whitehall from six thousand miles away‘.’
    • ‘It is when the rigid rules come in and it seems to be that there is too much dictation from the centre that things start to go wrong.’
    • ‘But Hunt said the dictation of fiscal policy was beyond the remit of central bankers and, in any case, tightening fiscal policy would not be effective in an open economy like Ireland.’
    • ‘Grassroots Fianna Fail supporters in this region sent a clear signal at the weekend to the party ‘top brass’ that they do not like dictation from on high.’
    • ‘Decisions are not made communicatively but rather automatically by the dictation of the economic and political subsystems.’
    • ‘Greater power meant that if a general European war broke out, the United States would no longer have to sit back and accept dictation of its trade routes.’
    • ‘It was its aftermath that was most disastrous, largely under American dictation at Versailles.’
    • ‘In a matter of this kind we cannot and will not accept the dictation of theorists.’
    • ‘Nor was he content to see Miller resign himself to a job of taking dictation from high school coaches.’
    • ‘Permitting the self to be cowed by such dictation destroyed-to use a Heideggerian buzzword-Authenticity.’
    • ‘The publican claimed that this new law was jack boot government and government by dictation.’
    • ‘Within the states, branch members similarly will not accept dictation from local executives or Management Committees.’
    • ‘The British Constitution, starting with Magna Carta of 1215 and expanded by subsequent Constitutional Acts guarantees us freedom from foreign or executive oppression or dictation.’
    • ‘It has moved from being a dominant power which most often works through a sort of informal consensus to one that increasingly seeks to act through dictation.’
    • ‘Every writer does, except perhaps those who, like Isaiah, have submitted to a higher dictation.’
    • ‘We will not accept dictation from anybody as to how our conference is organised.’
    • ‘It's probably because I am totally immune to advertising and the media, and today's music seems to me to be inextricably tied up with commercial dictation to people about what and how they should, or shouldn't, be.’
    • ‘Such dictation threatens one of the foundations of democracy - an education that freely criticizes and challenges the governing powers.’
    • ‘We must welcome advice, but we must not tolerate dictation.’


Mid 17th century (in dictation): from late Latin dictatio(n-), from the verb dictare (see dictate).