will the men let you <dictate terms>?

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Senior Member
Here are some words from the novel Lady Chatterley's Lover( page 264, chapter 13) by Lawrence (planetebook,here):

They looked up the shallow valley at the mine, and beyond it, at the black-lidded houses of Tevershall crawling like some serpent up the hill. From the old brown church the bells were ringing: Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!
‘But will the men let you dictate terms?’ she said.
‘My dear, they will have to: if one does it gently.’

What's the meaning of dictate terms please? Is it a fixed phrase?
Thank you in avance
  • e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Put simply, it means tell them what they must do.
    More formally, it means lay down the conditions that they must satisfy.

    It is a fixed phrase. For example, if the UK decides to leave the EU, the EU may be able to dictate the terms on which the UK trades.


    Senior Member
    UK English
    You could say order the men to do something (I don't know what this is. Perhaps they are on strike and she will only give them what they want on certain conditions).

    The word boss is used in to boss someone about (to give someone orders). But I would not use it here.


    Senior Member
    British English
    It's not easy to answer your questions properly if you don't provide background. They are discussing the prospect of preventing strikes by the miners. Clifford makes it clear that he will place the miners in a position that will stop them from striking - they need the mine more than he does if they wish to eat. e2efour had explained the meaning - Clifford will dictate terms for keeping the mine open. It's difficult to understand how "dictate terms" could be replaced by "order and boss".
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