Simple Definition of compel
: to force (someone) to do something
: to make (something) happen : to force (something)
Full Definition of compel
1 : to drive or urge forcefully or irresistibly <hunger compelled him to eat>
2 : to cause to do or occur by overwhelming pressure <public opinion compelled her to sign the bill>
3 archaic : to drive together
Examples of compel in a sentence
Illness compelled him to stay in bed.
We took steps to compel their cooperation.
Origin of compel
Middle English compellen, from Anglo-French compeller, from Latin compellere, from com- + pellere to drive — more at felt
First Known Use: 14th century
Synonym Discussion of compel
Rhymes with compel
band shell, barbell, Becquerel, Blackwell, bluebell, bombshell, bridewell, cadelle, cartel, chandelle, Chanel, clamshell, cormel, cornel, corral, cowbell, cupel, diel, dispel, doorbell, dry cell, dry well, dumbbell, duxelles, ear shell, eggshell, excel, expel, farewell, fat cell, foretell, fuel cell, gazelle, germ cell, Glaspell, gromwell, groundswell, half shell, handbell, hard sell, hard-shell, harebell, hotel, impel, indwell, inkwell, Jarrell, jurel, Kandel, lampshell, lapel, Mandel, marcel, maxwell, Maxwell, micelle, misspell, morel, motel, nacelle, nerve cell, Nobel, noel, nouvelle, nutshell, oil well, Orel, Orwell, outsell, pall-mall, Parnell, pastel, pell-mell, pixel, pointelle, Ponselle, presell, propel, quenelle, rakehell, rappel, Ravel, rebel, refel, repel, respell, retell, riel, rondel, Roswell, saurel, scalpel, seashell, sequel, sleigh bell, soft sell, soft-shell, solgel, speedwell, spinel, stairwell, star shell, stem cell, tooth shell, unsell, unwell, upwell, wind-bell
COMPEL Defined for Kids
Definition of compel for Students
1 : to make (as a person) do something by the use of physical, moral, or mental pressure : force <… so greatly did hunger compel him, he was not above taking what did not belong to him. — Jack London, The Call of the Wild>
2 : to make happen by force <He compelled obedience.>
Word Root of compel
The Latin word pellere, meaning “to cause to move” or “to drive,” gives us the root pel. Words from the Latin pellere have something to do with driving or causing something to move. To propel is to drive forward. To compel is to drive someone to do something. To expel is to drive out. To repel is to drive back or away.
Legal Definition of compel
: to cause to do or occur by overwhelming pressure and esp. by authority or law <cannot compel the defendant to testify> <the result…is compelled by, the original understanding of the fourteenth amendment's equal protection clause — R. H. Bork>
Seen and Heard
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