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From Latin īnstrūctus, perfect passive participle of īnstruō (I instruct; I arrange, furnish, or provide).


  • IPA(key): /ˌɪnˈstɹʌkt/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ʌkt


instruct (third-person singular simple present instructs, present participle instructing, simple past and past participle instructed)

  1. (transitive) To teach by giving instructions.
    Synonyms: educate, guide
    Listen carefully when someone instructs you how to assemble the furniture.
    • c. 1604, William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, Act I, Scene 3,[1]
      Supply me with the habit and instruct me
      How I may formally in person bear me
      Like a true friar.
    • 1682, Aphra Behn, The False Count, London: Jacob Tonson, Act III, Scene 2, p. 33,[2]
      What a dishonour’s this, to me, to have so Dull a Father, that needs to be instructed in his Duty.
    • 1751, Samuel Johnson, The Rambler, No. 156, 14 September, 1751, in Volume 5, London: J. Payne and J. Bouquet, 1752, p. 177,[3]
      [] the design of tragedy is to instruct by moving the passions,
    • 1850, Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, Chapter 10,[4]
      [] I should deem you a man sore sick, it may be, yet not so sick but that an instructed and watchful physician might well hope to cure you.
    • 1974, Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, New York: William Morrow, Part 4, Chapter 29, p. 353,[5]
      At the Laundromat I instruct Chris on how to operate the drier, start the washing machines []
  2. (transitive) To tell (someone) what they must or should do.
    Synonyms: command, direct, order
    Usage note: "instruct" is less forceful than "order", but weightier than "advise"
    The doctor instructed me to keep my arm immobilised and begin physiotherapy.

Related terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


instruct (plural instructs)

  1. (obsolete) Instruction.


instruct (not comparable)

  1. (obsolete) Arranged; furnished; provided.
    • c. 1615, George Chapman (translator), Homer’s Odysses, London: Nathaniell Butter, Book 4, p. 62,[9]
      For he had neither ship, instruct with oares,
      Nor men to fetch him from those stranger shores.
  2. (obsolete) Instructed; taught; enlightened.
    • 1671, John Milton, Paradise Regained, London: John Starkey, Book 1, lines 438-441, p. 24,[10]
      Who ever by consulting at thy shrine
      Return’d the wiser, or the more instruct
      To flye or follow what concern’d him most,
      And run not sooner to his fatal snare?