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Control is used in a variety of contexts to express "mastery" or "proficiency": e.g. "Music students attending a master class are expected to have full control of basic skills such as rhythm and pitch" and more generally an ability to purposefully direct (including suppression of) change.

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Middle English countrollen, from Anglo-French contrerouler, from contreroule copy of an account, audit, from Medieval Latin contrarotulus, from Latin contra- + Medieval Latin rotulus roll — more at roll

  • Date: 15th century


  • 1 a archaic : to check, test, or verify by evidence or experiments
b : to incorporate suitable controls in <a controlled experiment>
  • 2 a : to exercise restraining or directing influence over : regulate
b : to have power over : rule
c : to reduce the incidence or severity of especially to innocuous levels <control an insect population> <control a disease>

intransitive verb

to incorporate controls in an experiment or study —used with for <control for socioeconomic differences>

synonyms see conduct


In psychology-related slang, control freak is a derogatory term for a person who attempts to dictate how everything around them is done. It can also refer to someone with a limited number of things that they want done a specific way.

In some cases, the control freak sees their constant intervention as beneficial or even necessary; this can be caused by feelings of superiority, believing that others are incapable of handling matters properly, or the fear that things will go wrong if they don't attend to every detail. In other cases, they may simply enjoy the feeling of power it gives them so much that they automatically try to gain control of everything around them.

See also