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 termsEdit


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?