Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Indoctrinate

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is indoctrinate. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Indoctrinate means “to teach (someone) to fully accept the ideas, opinions, and beliefs of a particular group and to not consider other ideas, opinions, and beliefs.”

// The goal of the professor is to teach politics, rather than to indoctrinate students with a narrow set of political beliefs.

INDOCTRINATE in Context

“Moreover, in a pluralistic society, parents from varied backgrounds want to know their children can receive a public education without being indoctrinated into a faith not their own.” — David Callaway, The Parsons (Kansas) Sun, 26 Dec. 2020

Did You Know?

Indoctrinate means “brainwash” to many people, but its meaning isn’t always so negative. When the verb first appeared in English in the 17th century, it simply meant “to teach”—a meaning linked closely to its source, the Latin verb docēre, which also means “to teach.” (Other offspring of docēreinclude docile, doctor, document, and, of course, doctrine). By the 19th century, indoctrinate was being used in the sense of teaching someone to fully accept only the ideas, opinions, and beliefs of a particular group.

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