According to the Cambridge definitions, dominate someone / something means to have control over them. Accordingly, I think in my following cases, both sentences in each pair mean the same.
I was wondering if you could confirm my take on it approving this equality:

1) She dominates her children. = She has control over her children.
2) He dominates his emotions. = He has control over his emotions.
3) He dominates the situation. = He has control over the situation.

I think they mean exactly the same thing with a slight nuance which strikes me that the cases with "dominate" are a bit more formal. However, I have no clue about their semantic prosody. Please let me know about it.

1 Answer 1


Dominate does mean "to control", but it also implies that the control is oppressive, total, or tyrannical.

A mother who has control over her children doesn't let them play in a busy street, but one who dominates her children sounds like she doesn't let them do anything she doesn't want them to do. A man who has control over his emotions doesn't cry when watching a sad movie, but a man who has dominated his emotions sounds like a person who doesn't cry at his mother's funeral, or anywhere else.

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