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dictate to (one)
1. To speak to one who will reproduce the message in a written document. In this usage, "dictate to" is a set phrase. I just finished dictating that memo to my secretary, and she is typing it up right now.
2. To exert control over someone or something. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "dictate" and "to." Don't try to dictate the terms of this contract to me! I have a say in it, too, you know.
dictated but not read
Copied into text through dictation but not written or proofread by the author. (Sometimes shortened to "dictated, not read.") Used as a warning that said text requires extra attention, as it may not read exactly as intended by the author. It always aggravates me to receive a letter marked as "dictated but not read"—if a person wants to write something to me, the least they could do is check it beforehand to make sure it's correct!
the dictates of conscience
cliché The directives or guiding principles of one's own moral values. Several high-ranking officials have broken rank with the senator on the controversial issue, claiming they felt compelled to follow the dictates of conscience. We must always be informed by the dictates of conscience when creating new policies.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
dictate (something) to someone
1. to speak out words to someone who writes them down; to speak words into a recording device to be written down later by someone. Walter dictated a letter to his secretary. Please come in so I can dictate to you.
2. to lay out or spell out the exact terms of something to someone; to act as a dictator. You can't dictate the rules to us. Please don't dictate to me.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
1. To say or read something aloud to someone, especially for it to be written down or notated: The executive dictated the letter to the secretary.
2. To issue orders or commands to someone: The manager dictated the new company policy to the staff.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
dictates of conscience
The guiding principles of what one believes is right. The word “dictate” has been so used, for the authoritative words of law, scripture, and the like, since the late sixteenth century. In 1656 Archbishop John Bramhall wrote, “Contrarie to the dictate of his conscience.”
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer