Definition of dictation in US English:



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

    ‘the dictation of letters’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘My scribe, Braintree, was in the bed-chamber, quietly awaiting the dictation of this week's Publisher's Message.’
    • ‘While it's all good fun, just talking to the computer, particularly if it chooses to do my bidding, dictation is a learned skill.’
    • ‘I felt the dictation software was working well enough to attempt to write the review with it.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Therefore, a simple dictation becomes a time-limiting step, with additional need for corrections.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Some authorities maintain that they were written by Moses himself at God's dictation.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Next time I do a running dictation I'm going to use Paradise Lost as the text.’
    • ‘He sat in the dictation room off of the pediatric intensive care unit dictating the final procedure note.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The ‘stating’ here usually consists of intraverbal control, where the source of the intraverbals is conceptual stimulus control, rather than transcription or dictation.’
    • ‘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).’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I have to speak out the words I want in my head - a bit like silent dictation - and my fingers follow.’
    • ‘He knew it long before he started the dictation.’
    1. 1.1 The activity of taking down a passage that is read aloud by a teacher as a test of spelling, writing, or language skills.
      ‘passages for dictation’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A Polish student has won a week-long trip to Swindon after winning an English dictation competition.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Johnson describes seven benchmarks of writing development, and explains the value of employing dictation, drawing, scribbling, and temporary spelling in early writing programs.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘KitMaker allows you to add your own voice recording that you can use for gap dictation and listening comprehension activities.’
      • ‘Today I gave my students the sentence dictation part of their spelling test, and then I had them diagram it for their language quiz.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A college freshman theory course also should include sight singing, keyboard harmony, written harmony and dictation, Ehle says.’
      • ‘A humorous example of this arose when I tried a new dictation program for my computer.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘One small boy was writing dictation on the board.’
    2. 1.2 An utterance that is typed, written down, or recorded.
      ‘the person who writes the dictation down is his agent’
      • ‘Each snippet is very much like the dictation you would hear if you were at a museum and had one of those handheld audio guides.’
      • ‘And as you've mentioned, in terms of Jack Spicer, for whom they write the poems, he's just taking down the dictation.’
      • ‘Gone are the days when we used to take dictation from the boss and get back with a typewritten fair copy.’
      • ‘Admin assistants tend to like me so much more when I don't leave them piles of dictation!’
      • ‘My first day on the job, I walked into the doctor's office to place some dictation on his desk and spied a photo on his bookshelf.’
      • ‘Nelson had a small table in his quarters on board his flagship and a single secretary to take dictation, translate foreign letters and newspapers, make copies, and file documents.’
      • ‘His legal career was cut short, however, when a white secretary refused to take dictation from a man of his colour.’
      • ‘True to his word, Ian had his dictation waiting on her desk every morning and she looked forward to hearing the latest turn of events.’
      • ‘And the Torah is considered a direct dictation, which is why the Five Book of Moses have a unique position among all holy books of the Jewish people and a unique authority in the Jewish world.’
      • ‘Babies listening to two sets of tape-recorded human speech would listen intently to the one with grammatical dictation, but would turn away and stop listening when ungrammatical tapes were played.’
      • ‘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 100 spoken texts comprise: face-to-face conversations and telephone conversations; discussions; interviews; broadcast commentaries; lectures; demonstrations; sermons; committee meetings; and dictations.’
      • ‘There is also a ‘Professional’ version that stores dictation after the programme is closed, for future review (my version will only store it while the programme is open).’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They will, obviously, take dictation from Bremer or his successor and not from the figure-head ‘Ministers'.’
      • ‘Each day, she takes dictation, types letters on a big old Selectric, makes coffee, and, on occasion, ‘freshens up’ the mousetrap.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I don't usually feel as though I'm taking dictation, writing my own stuff.’
      • ‘Most of our dictations are one page long but a few are two pages.’
      • ‘I did, though get a reaction when I asked, in all innocence, if she would take dictation.’
      • ‘So what is the chance of an untrained computer at the other end of a phone line decoding your dictation, especially when you adopt your most amusing Huw Edwards accent?’
      • ‘Who knows, maybe I'll find a little London lad to pound out some dictation for me.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘When some or all of her muses come into play, ‘these people [characters] start showing up and start talking, and I start taking the dictation,’ Cooper says.’
      • ‘In this arena, too, the use of wireless PDAs can reduce turnaround time for transcribing physician dictations by half.’
      • ‘Among Blackmun's papers, from which Linda Greenhouse has crafted her highly readable story of his career on the Supreme Court, there is a dictation he made to his file about the meeting.’
      • ‘Daunted by tackling the novel alone, he hires a stenographer to record his dictations.’
      • ‘Artaud ended up creating a new, multigenre form, in which essay, dictation, poem, letter, dream, and glossolalia, in varying combinations, are present in a single work.’
      • ‘The dismissals of Woodward's books as dictation can change with the political weather.’
  • 2The action of giving orders authoritatively or categorically.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In a matter of this kind we cannot and will not accept the dictation of theorists.’
    • ‘Such dictation threatens one of the foundations of democracy - an education that freely criticizes and challenges the governing powers.’
    • ‘Nor was he content to see Miller resign himself to a job of taking dictation from high school coaches.’
    • ‘Decisions are not made communicatively but rather automatically by the dictation of the economic and political subsystems.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘We must welcome advice, but we must not tolerate dictation.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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‘.’
    • ‘Every writer does, except perhaps those who, like Isaiah, have submitted to a higher dictation.’
    • ‘An autonomous body that must not, and will not, take dictation from any other local authority.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Permitting the self to be cowed by such dictation destroyed-to use a Heideggerian buzzword-Authenticity.’
    • ‘Within the states, branch members similarly will not accept dictation from local executives or Management Committees.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It was its aftermath that was most disastrous, largely under American dictation at Versailles.’
    • ‘The publican claimed that this new law was jack boot government and government by dictation.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’


Mid 17th century (in dictation (sense 2)): from late Latin dictatio(n-), from the verb dictare (see dictate).