Definition of instruct in English:



  • 1[reporting verb] Tell or order someone to do something, especially in a formal or official way.

    [with object and infinitive] ‘she instructed him to wait’
    [with direct speech] ‘‘Look at me,’ he instructed’
    [with clause] ‘I instructed that she should be given hot, sweet tea’
    • ‘When this is all over, maybe they'll even instruct the real officials to loosen up a bit, to let the players play.’
    • ‘The Collector has instructed the officials to verify all applications.’
    • ‘After months of wrangling, a council last month issued an enforcement order instructing Mr Bennett to remove it or face prosecution.’
    • ‘I have been instructed by higher ranked officials to start our preparation for attack now.’
    • ‘He had earlier instructed Cabinet officials to shore up their efforts in pushing for the passage of bills recommended by the Economic Development Advisory Conference.’
    • ‘Can you please instruct your officials to help the communities which are willing to help themselves as was promised.’
    • ‘And Vatican officials have been instructed by the pope himself to continue planning a trip to Mongolia.’
    • ‘He instructed the relevant officials at the department to redress the matter as he set about counter-acting what was shaping up to be political fallout of a serious nature.’
    • ‘My words fell out in the voice I used at the palace, to instruct an obstinate official of one region or other, or to take the delegates in hand.’
    • ‘In future local authorities, which are currently powerless, will be able to issue formal notices instructing the reduction of a hedge's height and its long-term maintenance.’
    • ‘On 23 June she instructed her officials to draft this legislation to avoid any doubt, and she claimed that she was not even sure that it would be included in this legislation.’
    • ‘But that has to happen in order for us to instruct the others.’
    • ‘They also recommended the issuance of a policy letter instructing award-fee officials to commit funds as contingent liabilities when evaluation periods begin.’
    • ‘And at every step of the way, we ordered, instructed the Department of Defense, the National Guard to turn over every single document.’
    • ‘Krishna had instructed the officials to make use of the land to avoid encroachments.’
    • ‘The German soldier, instructed in killing and ordered to destroy him, held the photos.’
    • ‘The officials were instructed to itemize the number of signatures from each county that are deemed defective for any of 10 reasons.’
    • ‘It must be some formal executive act which orders or directs or instructs that something be done.’
    • ‘When her colleagues turned their cameras on, officials with bullhorns instructed the crowd to increase the volume of their chants.’
    • ‘Thus seven bishops petitioned him explaining why they would not obey his order to instruct their clergy to read the Declaration of Indulgence to their flocks.’
    order, command, direct, tell, enjoin, give the order to, give orders to, give the command to, require, call on, mandate, charge
    View synonyms
  • 2[with object] Teach (someone) a subject or skill.

    ‘he instructed them in the use of firearms’
    [with object and clause] ‘instructing electors how to record their votes’
    • ‘During some part of his life he was instructed in Pythagoreanism, and was a disciple of Leucippus.’
    • ‘May our past failures instruct us, warn us, and prepare us for these uncertain and dark times.’
    • ‘She takes him to her schoolroom and instructs him in Scripture and ‘celestiall discipline,’ offering him a catechetical education to prepare him for his role as defender of the Church.’
    • ‘Even if you're not trained, a dispatcher can instruct you in CPR until help arrives.’
    • ‘I will instruct you and teach you.’
    • ‘So prepare your household, then return to me ready to instruct me in the realities of the world beyond these palace walls.’
    • ‘The nani manipulates the history teacher to teach Saben music and in the scene, Nani instructs her in the basics of dance.’
    • ‘Paul instructs us on how to treat one another: ‘Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.’’
    • ‘And so began my education about dishonor, a curriculum that instructs me still.’
    • ‘We must ever remember His absolute uniqueness, but at the same time we can find in His childhood a model to instruct us as parents and educators.’
    • ‘She soon sets on a rigorous course of education for Topsy, instructing her in the arts of making her bed and cleaning her chamber.’
    • ‘One day, Ailes received one of Hofuku's disciples and asked him, ‘How does your teacher instruct you?’’
    • ‘At Oxford University he developed a passion for botany, but finding no-one who could instruct him adequately, he hired a tutor who taught him the new Linnaean precepts.’
    • ‘However, when the Prophet Moses reached the mountain before the appointed time, the Almighty extended this period to forty days in order to train and instruct him.’
    • ‘On this chilly November day, Baer, a Christian-fiction writer and life coach, is instructing me in an organizational exercise.’
    • ‘With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him, and taught Him in the path of justice?’
    • ‘When you're first taught butterfly you're probably instructed on the fine points of how to undulate through the water.’
    • ‘Étienne Louis was first educated at home where he was instructed in literature and mathematics.’
    • ‘The best in language and the worst in language are found in literature, and it's the best that instructs you, that teaches you.’
    • ‘Aside from these fundamentals, you'll get a chance to practice these skills and get pointers from the pros as they instruct you on the best moments to use these talents.’
    teach, school, give lessons to, coach, train, ground, enlighten, illuminate, inform, verse, edify, educate, upskill, tutor, guide, prepare, prime, din something into
    View synonyms
  • 3Law
    [with object] (of a client) employ or authorize (a solicitor or barrister) to act on one's behalf.

    ‘he must indicate which of the firms he wishes to instruct’
    • ‘I made it very clear to the defendant that he should instruct a solicitor if he wanted to cross-examine the complainant, and should do this ASAP today if possible.’
    • ‘At one stage it was represented by the solicitors now instructed by the defendants.’
    • ‘But the onus is of course on them to instruct us, as it would be for any client to instruct their solicitor.’
    • ‘She had apparently instructed solicitors to deal with the matter on her behalf.’
    • ‘The judge properly addressed the question of whether it was ACP or Mr Atkinson who was the client instructing the company's solicitors.’
    employ, authorize to act for one, brief, give information to
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1(of a solicitor) give directions or information to (a barrister) regarding a court case.
      ‘she is skilled in interviewing clients and instructing counsel’
      • ‘Well, instructing solicitors should be in court when decisions are given; they must surely know, and somebody must surely be in a position to affirm or otherwise what Mr Martin has said.’
      • ‘If counsel is instructed by a solicitor who is in court, he too should be allowed to attend the discussion.’
      • ‘Ms Lisa Sinclair of Counsel is instructed by Davis & Co Solicitors’
      • ‘This is called the Bar table, and on this side the solicitors who instruct the barristers and prepare their work, they sit there.’
      • ‘Counsel was instructed and advised that a single change of user from military to civilian would not amount to a material change of use.’
  • 4[with object] Give information to (someone)

    [with clause] ‘the bank was instructed that the money from the deposit account was now held by the company’
    • ‘In 1943, however, we were instructed that in some situations requiring instant response, censorship regulations should be waived.’
    • ‘Leading us out of the coach, our guide instructed us that the small island in front of the big lake in front of us held important ruins but we couldn't get any closer because it was owned by the government.’
    • ‘Nor is it sufficient for Jesus to simply instruct us about our situation, for we are all too fully enclosed in the scapegoating process to be able to break the spell.’
    • ‘I am instructed that given the situation that I find myself in, I need to have a level of caution.’
    • ‘In fact, I am instructed that Michael John Hunter Davies did not become a surety.’
    • ‘These officials should be instructed that they have the right and duty to refuse to obey any order to participate in torture.’
    • ‘I am instructed that in fact the loan is to be repaid.’
    • ‘Indeed, it is she who instructs him of his identity.’
    • ‘In an appendix on Polish pronunciation Ruane helpfully instructs us that the name is pronounced ‘pop-yeh-wooshko’ with the stress on the ‘woosh’.’
    inform, tell, let someone know, notify, apprise, advise, announce to, impart to, relate to, communicate to
    View synonyms


Late Middle English (in instruct): from Latin instruct- constructed, equipped, taught, from the verb instruere, from in- upon, towards + struere pile up.