Definition of command in US English:



  • 1reporting verb Give an authoritative order.

    with object and infinitive ‘a gruff voice commanded us to enter’
    with direct speech ‘“Stop arguing!” he commanded’
    with clause ‘he commanded that work should cease’
    with object ‘my mother commands my presence’
    • ‘‘Give the phone back to my mother,’ she commanded, her voice like steel.’
    • ‘Libby asked, her voice soft but commanding him to return to her.’
    • ‘I just was surprised that even if you are to be crowned King, you still are being commanded around by your mother.’
    • ‘It seems like only an instant has passed when we are abruptly shaken from sleep by a loud voice commanding everyone to now go to the main gate.’
    • ‘‘In here, men,’ a gruff voice commanded as the feet drew nearer.’
    • ‘‘Turn,’ Mother commands, bringing my attention to the kitchen table tailoring.’
    • ‘‘Rise,’ the empress commanded imperiously, her voice, a high-pitched shriek.’
    • ‘‘Seize them,’ a cold voice commanded to the others, who advanced upon orders.’
    • ‘‘Get away from her’ he commanded his voice like liquid nitrogen.’
    • ‘‘Bo, do as she has asked,’ the deep voice of Gin commanded.’
    • ‘There was a short crackle from the speakers, then a voice spoke, commanding everyone to listen.’
    • ‘‘Well get up and do something about it,’ she commanded in her best mother voice.’
    • ‘After a second or two, the voice of her father commanded her to enter.’
    • ‘But then, over a loudspeaker, an all-too-real voice commanded us to stop driving and get out of our cars.’
    • ‘He could hear the voice of the man commanding them - the Commander was not here.’
    • ‘‘Bring him to me,’ she commanded, her voice authoritative and unwavering.’
    • ‘Sabriel commanded him, her voice high-pitched with worry.’
    • ‘Speaking of marriage, my mother is commanding me to marry soon.’
    • ‘He called her over in a harsh voice, and then commanded her to draw him water for his bath.’
    • ‘Her daughter immediately commands her mother not to give the flower girl any money.’
    order, give orders to, give the order to, tell, direct, instruct, call on, enjoin, adjure, charge, require, prescribe
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Military with object Have authority over; be in charge of (a unit)
      ‘he commanded a battalion at Normandy’
      • ‘After the war he served as staff commander of an infantry regiment and division and commanded a combined unit.’
      • ‘John fought in Vietnam and commanded a helicopter unit in Somalia.’
      • ‘Captain York, you may have commanded your own regiment in the late war, but so long as you command a troop in mine you will obey my orders.’
      • ‘He then commanded a unit in Miami, charged with conducting operations against Communist Cuba.’
      • ‘He commanded the unit for six years and was its honorary colonel twice.’
      • ‘Those who were in command, those who were responsible for supervising them, they all failed.’
    2. 1.2archaic with object Control or restrain (oneself or one's feelings)
      ‘he commanded himself with an effort’
      • ‘His command over his body language is as strong as his control over the fighters he leads.’
      • ‘He proves that he holds a strong command over his desires, exercises sound self-control, and enjoys the taste of disciplinary life.’
      • ‘We have poor command over our image in the media.’
  • 2with object Dominate (a strategic position) from a superior height.

    ‘the two castles commanded the harbor’
    • ‘The back commands terrific views over the Dean Village and the Firth and Forth, the horizon bristling with spires and treetops.’
    • ‘Rhum is famous not just as a National Nature Reserve but also for the splendid red sandstone Kinloch Castle, which commands sensational views from its steadfast position at the head of Loch Scresort.’
    • ‘An excursion to the Castle, a fortress that commands the road to Salzburg costs £15.’
    • ‘Additionally, they were located in the center of town, often occupying a location that commanded a view of adjacent buildings and the surrounding countryside.’
    • ‘It was situated on a slope that led to a rocky beach and commanded an incredible view of the sea, the Blue Mountains, Cabarita Island and the nearby fishing and marketing town of Port Maria.’
    • ‘Situated on the borders of Wicklow and Kildare, Barretstown Castle commands a panoramic view over beautiful rolling hills and verdant fields.’
    • ‘My first flat was over the allotted $10 a day, but it commanded a view of the city and harbor that was unequaled.’
    • ‘The Presidential Suite commands a panoramic view of the lagoon.’
    • ‘The 20-square-metre classroom on the third floor commands a view of willows and winding streams.’
    • ‘It was built on a hill commanding a great view for miles.’
    • ‘The building, which commands views over Parliament Street, was believed to be worth more than £2 million and has not been used since it was closed in 1982.’
    • ‘The bar commands a spectacular view of the River Shannon from the ground and first floor of the €100 million River Point building.’
    • ‘The projecting balconies of the nine-storeyed palace gracefully rises to a mountain height, commanding a bird's view of the town.’
    • ‘All of the rooms command views over the city skyline.’
    • ‘It commands a gorgeous view of the Bay at sunset and is well worth visiting early evening.’
    • ‘It was cosy, had a fireplace, and commanded a nice view of the Bishop of Galway's back yard, where herons used to nest and foxes would come around foraging.’
    • ‘As the trees grew the mausoleum no longer commanded a view of New York harbor.’
    • ‘On a four-acre elevated site sloping to the road, the courtyard commands a fine view over farmland to the sea, less than two miles away.’
    • ‘Their massive towers were designed to house garrisons, customs and city officials and command a view of the boulevards.’
    • ‘But it afforded him the only position where he could command a view of the entire area from a post that was nearly hidden.’
    be in charge of, be in command of, have charge of, have control of, be the leader of, be the boss of, preside over, be in authority over, hold sway over
    View synonyms
  • 3with object Be in a strong enough position to have or secure (something)

    ‘no party commanded a majority’
    ‘a moral force that commanded respect’
    • ‘It commands an overwhelming majority of support in the media, the arts, the universities and the public service.’
    • ‘Lincoln represented the mainstream of his party, which commanded a majority of votes in the North by 1860.’
    • ‘In fact there's a real question about whether either can even command enough support to put together a coalition with smaller parties.’
    • ‘In any democracy suffering the collapse of its government with no single party commanding the necessary majority to mount a new one, a general election would follow.’
    • ‘The most serious in this regard is the fact that Roh's party does not command a majority in the National Assembly.’
    • ‘There is every chance he could still command a majority of above 80 at the next election, ordinarily the sign of a strong, healthy government.’
    • ‘Following a general election, or a change of leadership, the leader of the party commanding an overall majority in the House of Commons is invited by the monarch to become Prime Minister and form a cabinet.’
    • ‘They may both be remakes of better films, but there is no denying that the American versions of these Japanese classics now command a very strong position in the marketplace.’
    • ‘This was a plurality opinion, but on this point she commanded a majority of votes on the court.’
    • ‘MPs called for a strong new leader who commands the support of the whole party’
    • ‘But standing, you should have been able to command enough attention to quiet everyone down.’
    • ‘It is also a potentially valuable business with a very strong brand, a good market image and which commands strong loyalty among its customers.’
    • ‘The latter states that the Opposition Leader is the person who commands the majority of Opposition support in the House.’
    • ‘The political leader of the opposition party which commands the majority in the Parliament, usually holds the post of Opposition Leader.’
    • ‘Much of our practice regarding the formation and conduct of government assumes that government will be in the hands of a single party that commands a majority in Parliament.’
    • ‘It merely says he is to appoint the leader of the party which commands a majority in the House of Representatives as prime minister.’
    • ‘Items that are hard to find in the original labeled box, that are in unused condition and in boxes, and that are in fine condition commanded the strongest prices.’
    • ‘The person who can command a parliamentary majority in this Parliament can do whatever he or she likes, and in that respect we are almost unique in world democracy.’
    • ‘This is evidence that not only are people buying homes, but that demand in the market is strong enough to command premium asking prices.’
    • ‘Because of the plethora of candidates, many of which are trying to cater to the same voting demographics, it is highly unlikely that the winner will command a majority.’
    receive, be given, get, gain, obtain, secure
    View synonyms


  • 1An authoritative order.

    ‘it's unlikely they'll obey your commands’
    • ‘There were several instances where my voice commands went unanswered, which was particularly frustrating in the heat of battle.’
    • ‘Who wants to put their fates into hands of others and obey their commands?’
    • ‘People merely obey arbitrary commands and orders, but they respond quickly and usually give extra effort for leaders who genuinely care for them.’
    • ‘Without question they both obeyed his command and followed after him.’
    • ‘It wasn't a question it was a command which Pearl quickly obeyed.’
    • ‘You are teaching him that when he hears that command he must obey.’
    • ‘Aside from thinking, Simon also does the necessary chores and obeys all commands from his superiors.’
    • ‘The physical training involves making the canines obey commands of the master.’
    • ‘I obeyed her command without questioning, since she was responsible for the most fun I'd had in my life up to that point.’
    • ‘Your positive insight and support were a huge inspiration for our writing, even after the command ordered us to stand down.’
    • ‘Therefore, they have no right to issue commands or orders.’
    • ‘Elephants would be trained for one hour each in the morning and evening to make it obey certain commands as well.’
    • ‘Captain Harper shouted out orders to his crew, who rushed to obey his commands.’
    • ‘In some ways, the president of the corporation has to obey the command of the corporation in order to compete.’
    • ‘In order to be efficient commands must be executed quickly and without questioning by subordinates.’
    • ‘They were still waiting over an hour later as the police went about using their metal barricades and polite but authoritative commands to disperse the area.’
    • ‘Nobody likes taking orders, commands or advice from others.’
    • ‘I have finally taught him to obey a few simple commands.’
    • ‘I realized that if I kept obeying her commands she would keep giving them.’
    • ‘The soldiers obeyed his command because he had ordered them to.’
    order, instruction, directive, direction, commandment, injunction, demand, stipulation, requirement, exhortation, bidding, request
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Computing An instruction or signal that causes a computer to perform one of its basic functions.
      • ‘After a purchase is completed, the command erases the order information from the machine's memory’
      • ‘It's a safe way to execute commands on remote computers.’
      • ‘Finding one, he smiled, and typed a command into the control system.’
      • ‘The custom commands are simply instructions you speak to the computer and then it performs the designated task.’
      • ‘You can also use commands to change the order of word fields - for example, make the first word in a line, the fourth - and the fourth word, the first.’
    2. 1.2 Authority, especially over armed forces.
      ‘an officer took command’
      ‘who's in command?’
      ‘we will have nearly thirty thousand people under our command’
      • ‘July 19th, Franco arrives to take command of the army in Morocco.’
      • ‘He had left the bridge a few minutes before and as the grounding was not felt, when I realised that the vessel was stopped I called the Master and he took command.’
      • ‘He was confident that, with just 5,000 troops under his command, the catastrophe could be averted.’
      • ‘So we fly back down to Guadalcanal to take command of the task force.’
      • ‘‘Russell has a natural energy and authority, and he took command of that ship from the beginning’.’
      • ‘Are you glad you are not in command at the moment?’
      • ‘The ship's arrival posed a problem to the British authorities, then in command of the Cape.’
      • ‘In October 1943, he took command of the newly formed 14th Army.’
      • ‘When an infantry officer takes command of a company, he wants to make it the best fighting force possible.’
      • ‘I enjoy the authority and like being in command of 30-odd recruits.’
      • ‘This is unexpected behavior from those in command.’
      • ‘He will spend the next two years in command, seeing to the fruits of the project as the Navy further employs the satellite monitoring of fishing vessels t sea.’
      • ‘Although friends pointed out that he was not actually in command of the armed forces at the time.’
      • ‘Oh, no, we always are going to keep our troops under our own command.’
      • ‘For example, he already had taken command of military operations when he took control of critical production programs.’
      • ‘His uncle was stationed in command of the imperial naval base at Misenum, on the north-west extremity of the Bay of Naples.’
      • ‘David continued to examine the ship while the troops under his command maintained the perimeter.’
      • ‘From the very day George Washington took command, the uniform of the United States has always stood for courage and decency and shining hope in a world of darkness.’
      • ‘He makes a number of solid points in this column, and I imagine these abuses would have been caught much earlier had he been in command in late 2003.’
      • ‘"I am now assuming command of this force, " I told them.’
      authority, control, charge, power, direction, dominion, domination, influence, sway, guidance
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3in singular The ability to use or control something.
      ‘he had a brilliant command of English’
      • ‘She has command over many languages but her prime work is to translate English poetry into Urdu and vice versa.’
      • ‘Sonia's drawback seems to be her lack of command over Indian languages.’
      • ‘Tonight we saw that he has an equal command over domestic issues.’
      • ‘"They come with a very basic command of English, " she said.’
      • ‘The basic objective behind the learning of Arabic literature is to earn efficiency, mastery and command over Arabic.’
      • ‘This, we would not be able to do unless we have a sound and effective command over English.’
      • ‘He has good command over English, Punjabi and Hindi languages.’
      • ‘First, one must have a firm command over classical Arabic language including its vocabulary, grammar, metaphors, and idioms.’
      • ‘Once you have a command over these combinations, you can always improvise and go beyond that depending on your creativity.’
      • ‘Hardly any junior has shown such a good command over both forms of the game in the recent past.’
      • ‘Like anyone who is thinking of getting into race commentary they have the twin skills of a good command of the English language, married to a strong knowledge of the formbook.’
      • ‘The Magginis have a brilliant command of the idiom.’
      • ‘Her vibrant stage presence, excellent command over rhythm and felicity of expression held the audience spellbound.’
      • ‘Simply put, it's more than acting with inputs like good command over language, spontaneity, imagination, skills to improvise there and then.’
      • ‘He has such command over his knowledge that he can popularize it in the best sense of the word.’
      • ‘Their profession calls for a thorough knowledge about tourist sites, good command over the language and heavy dose of psychology.’
      • ‘With muddled thoughts, sweaty palms, poor command over the language, and butterflies in the stomach, the girl sees expectant eyes, all glued on her.’
      • ‘Garner and Sadler are gifted musicians and talented comedians who have command over physical comedy and character-acting.’
      • ‘As one would expect from his highly efficient biography (also unofficial) of Ted Heath, he shows a masterly command of the politics of the period.’
      • ‘For much of the season, he has struggled with command of his fastball.’
      knowledge, mastery, grasp, grip, comprehension, understanding
      View synonyms
    4. 1.4Military treated as singular or plural A group of officers exercising control over a particular group or operation.
      • ‘There was a fundamental lack of trust between the command and the troops.’
      • ‘In the past, courses were ordered by the command, based on what they thought their personnel would need.’
      • ‘The Army needs competent, confident, adaptive thinkers to exercise battle command.’
      • ‘The military's southern command said an infantry brigade has been sent to the site to assist the citizens.’
      • ‘Strategic and operational command used tactical forces and assets and created favorable conditions for their use.’
    5. 1.5Military A body of troops or a district under the control of a particular officer.
      • ‘It will also be necessary to do some adjustments to the structure of commands of the military districts and fronts.’
      • ‘The Air Force is organized into 9 major commands, 35 field operating agencies, and 4 direct reporting units.’
      • ‘Despite the diverse missions of the District's many commands, virtually all of them share one thing in common.’
      • ‘These activities work closely with combatant commands to identify operational requirements.’
      • ‘Across the command, deployment orders were flowing.’


  • at someone's command

    • At someone's disposal; available.

      ‘he had at his command a vast number of ready-made phrases’
      • ‘The nobility and the church fought back hard with all the power at their command.’
      • ‘So with all the creative energy at our command, let us begin an era of national renewal.’
      • ‘Our kids have incredible toys at their command that allow them to experience everything but the real thing.’
      • ‘They go on deploying the vast propaganda and other resources at their command until they finally impose their will.’
      • ‘Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.’
      • ‘You can do that when you have a powerful government at your command.’
      • ‘We shall combat it with all the resources at our command.’
      • ‘With all the modern methods of waste disposal at our command, it should not be difficult to prevent pollution of lakes.’
      • ‘We have a big task in keeping our city clean, but we are doing it with all the will and resources we have at our command.’
      • ‘Pointedly refusing to rule out the use of nuclear weapons, he added, ‘We will direct every resource at our command and every necessary weapon of war.’’


Middle English: from Old French comander ‘to command’, from late Latin commandare, from com- (expressing intensive force) + mandare ‘commit, command’. Compare with commend.