American English

Definition of control noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1[uncountable] control (of/over somebody/something) the power to make decisions about how a country, an area, an organization, etc. is run The party is expecting to gain control ofCity Hall in the next election. The Democrats will probably lose control ofCongress. A military junta took control of the country. The city is in the control of enemy forces. The city is under enemy control.
  2. 2[uncountable] control (of/over somebody/something) the ability to make someone or something do what you want The teacher had no control over the children. She struggled to keep control of her voice. She lost control of her car on the ice. He got so angry he lost control (= shouted and said or did things he would not normally do). Due to circumstances beyond our control, the flight to Nashville has been canceled. The coach made the team work hard on ball control (= in a ball game). see also self-control
  3. limiting/managing
  4. 3[uncountable, countable] control (of/on something) (often in compounds) the act of restricting, limiting, or managing something; a method of doing this traffic control gun control talks on arms control government controls on business and industry A new advance has been made in the control of malaria. Price controls on food were ended. a pest control officer see also birth control, quality control Thesauruslimitrestriction control constraint restraint limitationThese are all words for something that limits what you can do or what can happen.limit the greatest or smallest amount of something that is allowed:The government has set strict limits on spending. the speed limitrestriction (somewhat formal) a rule or law that limits what you can do:There are no restrictions on the amount of money you can withdraw.control (often in compounds) the act of limiting or managing something; a method of doing this:crowd controlconstraint (somewhat formal) a fact or decision that limits what you can do:The agency is operating under severe budget constraints.restraint (somewhat formal) a decision, a rule, an idea, etc. that limits what you can do; the act of limiting something because it is necessary or sensible to do so:The new law has imposed restraints on exports to Russia.limitation the act or process of limiting something; a rule, fact, or condition that limits something:They would resist any limitation of their powers.restriction, constraint, restraint, or limitation?These are all things that limit what you can do. A restriction is a rule or law that is made by someone in authority. A constraint is something that exists rather than something that is made, although it may exist as a result of someone's decision. A restraint is also something that exists: it can exist outside yourself, as the result of someone else's decision; but it can also exist inside you, as a fear of what other people may think or as your own feeling about what is acceptable:moral/social/cultural restraints. A limitation is more general and can be a rule that someone makes or a fact or condition that exists.Patterns limits/restrictions/controls/constraints/restraints/limitations on something limits/limitations to something severe limits/restrictions/controls/constraints/restraints/limitations tight limits/restrictions/controls/constraints to impose/remove limits/restrictions/controls/constraints/restraints/limitations to ease/lift restrictions/controls/constraints/restraints
  5. in machine
  6. 4[countable, usually plural] the switches and buttons, etc. that you use to operate a machine or a vehicle the controls of an aircraft the control panel the volume control of a CD player The co-pilot was at the controls when the plane landed. a car with dual control(s) (= one set of controls for the driver and one for the instructor ). see also remote control
  7. on computer
  8. 5[uncountable] (also control key [singular]) (on a computer keyboard) a key that you press when you want to perform a particular operation
  9. in experiment
  10. 6[countable] (technology) a person, thing, or group used as a standard of comparison for checking the results of a scientific experiment; an experiment whose result is known, used for checking working methods The study showed that women with the disease have had fewer children than the controls. One group was treated with the new drug, and the control group was given a sugar pill.
  11. place
  12. 7[singular] a place where orders are given or where checks are made; the people who work in this place air traffic control We went through passport control and into the departure lounge. This is Mission Control calling the space shuttle Discovery.
  13. Idioms
      be in control (of something)
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    1. 1to direct or manage an organization, an area, or a situation He's reached retiring age, but he's still firmly in control. There was some rioting, but the police are now in control.
    2. 2to be able to organize your life well and keep calm In spite of all her family problems, she's really in control.
    be/get/run/etc. out of control
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    to be or become impossible to manage or to control The children are completely out of control since their father left. A truck ran out of control on the hill.
    be under control
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    to be being dealt with successfully Don't worry—everything's under control!
    bring/get/keep something under control
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    to succeed in dealing with something so that it does not cause any damage or hurt anyone It took two hours to bring the fire under control. Please keep your dog under control!
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: control