What are possible verb forms or more proper forms for the word didactic? I know that didact is only a noun, although audiologically it sounds as though it could be a verb. The sentence I am trying to fit it into is:

The advertising industry attempts to [didact] this specious ideal of beauty to women.

One of the main reasons that the word didactic really drew my attention was it is defined as intended to teach, particularly in having moral instruction as an ulterior motive.

  • _ promulgate ?_
    – Jim
    Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 4:28
  • 2
    The normal word is teach. Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 4:53
  • One of the main reasons that the word didactic really drew my attention was it is defined as intended to teach, particularly in having moral instruction as an ulterior motive Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 5:02
  • 1
    Not a true synonym, but I like "... foist [x] on [y]." Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 8:01
  • As I read this, I immediately thought of the word "indoctrinate." So that probably has broader appeal for your purpose.
    – brentb
    Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 11:49

3 Answers 3


The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, fourth edition (2000) gives three definitions for didactic:

didactic also didactical adj. 1. Intended to instruct. 2. Morally instructive. 3. Inclined to teach or moralize excessively.

None of these definitions explicitly includes the note of teaching with an ulterior motive that you mention in a comment above, but the third definition, with its emphasis on teaching or moralizing excessively may hint at something similar.

A number of verbs can be used to indicate teaching to serve an ulterior motive. A usage note at implant in Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary (2003) offers a close comparison of several verbs that are candidates for the meaning that you may have in mind:

IMPLANT, INCULCATE, INSTILL, INSEMINATE, INFIX means to introduce into the mind. IMPLANT implies teaching that makes for permanence of what is taught [example omitted]. INCULCATE implies persistent or repeated efforts to impress on the mind [example omitted]. INSTILL stresses gradual, gentle imparting of knowledge over a long period of time [example omitted]. INSEMINATE applies to a sowing of ideas in many minds so that they spread through a class or nation [example omitted]. INFIX stresses firmly inculcating a habit of thought [example omitted].

The definition closest to what you describe seems to be the one for inseminate, although that word seems so closely connected to procreation in most people's minds that it may not work for you. My own preference is for inculcate, which emphasizes the persistence of the effort—and which does not imply anything about the intentions (and motives) of the inculcator, for good or for ill.

However, I think that the verb that may most accurately describe the process of teaching a belief for ulterior purposes is indoctrinate. Here is the Eleventh Collegiate's definition of that word:

indoctrinate vt (1626) 1 : to instruct esp. in fundamentals or rudiments : TEACH 2 : to imbue with a usu. partisan or sectarian opinion, point of view, or principle

The second definition here is the one that I think fits best in your example sentence, though it requires as light adjustment of the final part of the sentence:

The advertising industry attempts to indoctrinate women with this specious ideal of beauty.


Any synonym for "teach" works, really.

Regarding your example sentence, I think "promote" or "instil" fits well, although normally we hear about the advertising industry trying to "sell" the ideal of beauty to women more than teach anything.


Consider the term inculcate

Instill (an attitude, idea, or habit) by persistent instruction: the failures of the churches to inculcate a sense of moral responsibility

Oxford Dicitionary Online

It seems to mesh well with the ODO's definition of didactic

Intended to teach, particularly in having moral instruction as an ulterior motive: a didactic novel that set out to expose social injustice

  • Inculcate is a good answer, but do you really think a novel (read presumably once) can instil by persistent instruction? Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 14:16
  • @TimLymington The examples given are those of ODO, so I don't get to choose. But I do think a novel, read once, can attempt to hit you over the head with a persistent theme or concept. To Wolfe, for example, often uses phrases over and over to describe something he disdains. I think he is attempting to inculcate that point of view in the reader.
    – bib
    Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 14:35
  • In my case, the advertisements are not just read once they are constantly teaching this belief and social construct. So, I believe that inculcate would be perfect, thank you all! Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 16:10

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