Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

control - definition and synonyms


What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.



The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

verb [transitive] control pronunciation in British English /kənˈtrəʊl/
Word Forms
present tense
present participlecontrolling
past tensecontrolled
past participlecontrolled
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  1. 1
    to have the power to make decisions and decide what will happen to something

    Most of the news media were controlled by the central government.

    A rebel army was now controlling the northern half of the country.

  2. 2
    to make people behave in the way that you want them to behave

    New teachers often find it difficult to control their classes.

    The generals who seized power used terror to control the people.

  3. 3
    to make a machine, system, vehicle etc move or operate in the way that you want it to

    I hit a patch of ice and couldn’t control the car.

    The flow of water is controlled by a series of valves.

  4. 4
    to prevent something harmful from spreading or becoming more dangerous

    We must do more to control the spread of the virus.

  5. 5
    to keep something at the correct level

    the parts of the brain that control our breathing

    1. a.
      to prevent something from increasing too much or too quickly
      tightly/strictly controlled:

      Spending in the company was tightly controlled.

  6. 6
    to remain calm and not show that you are angry or upset

    Carol struggled to control her anger.

    I could hardly control my temper.

    control yourself:

    If you can’t learn to control yourself, you’ll have to leave.



to fall over forwards so that your face hits the ground or another surface

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


the activity of exploring abandoned buildings and other manmade structures

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play