co·erce | \ kō-ˈərs \
coerced; coercing

Definition of coerce 

transitive verb

1 : to compel to an act or choice was coerced into agreeing abusers who coerce their victims into silence

2 : to achieve by force or threat coerce compliance coerce obedience

3 : to restrain or dominate by force religion in the past has tried to coerce the irreligious —W. R. Inge

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Other words from coerce

coercible \kō-ˈər-sə-bəl \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for coerce

force, compel, coerce, constrain, oblige mean to make someone or something yield. force is the general term and implies the overcoming of resistance by the exertion of strength, power, or duress. forced to flee for their lives compel typically suggests overcoming of resistance or unwillingness by an irresistible force. compelled to admit my mistake coerce suggests overcoming resistance or unwillingness by actual or threatened violence or pressure. coerced into signing over the rights constrain suggests the effect of a force or circumstance that limits freedom of action or choice. constrained by conscience oblige implies the constraint of necessity, law, or duty. felt obliged to go

Examples of coerce in a Sentence

A confession was coerced from the suspect by police. was coerced into signing the document

Recent Examples on the Web

The lawsuit filed by Jacques Rivera accuses former Detective Reynaldo Guevara of coercing the only eyewitness to Valentin’s shooting — a 12-year-old boy — into identifying Rivera as the gunman. Jason Meisner,, "Controversial ex-Chicago cop expected to take the Fifth at trial over wrongful conviction," 5 June 2018 Handy was found to have coerced a murder confession from Edwin Chandler by threatening to lock up his sister and take away her children. Andrew Wolfson, The Courier-Journal, "Special prosecutor named for ex-cop who helped convict 3 innocent men," 18 May 2018 Osborne pleaded guilty to charges for distributing Perez’ video, and to the charge of coercing Pacyga, according to a federal plea agreement. Jared Gilmour, miamiherald, "Mom admitted oral sex on 5-month-old. But she’s not guilty of criminal sexual conduct, Michigan jury says | Miami Herald," 12 Apr. 2018 On Monday, a lawsuit filed in federal court alleged three Michigan State basketball players of raping a student in 2015, a week after the Final Four loss to Duke, and accused the university of coercing the woman not to report it to authorities. Detroit Free Press, "Michigan State: Breaking down 3 multi-player rape allegations since 2010?," 9 Apr. 2018 Officials said James Nice was accused of making derogatory comments that were racial in nature, and the Akron Beacon Journal reported he is accused of coercing a female employee into a relationship. Evan Macdonald,, "Former Akron police chief expected to plead guilty to misdemeanor charge," 13 Feb. 2018 Defense lawyers Jack Blumenfeld, Marc Chattah and James DeMiles insisted that their client was coerced into confessing. David Ovalle, miamiherald, "Man convicted of murder at Miami storage facility," 20 Nov. 2014 Wochit The key witness in a federal bribery trial involving a former Arizona utility regulator said she was coerced to participate in the scheme by her ex-husband, a lobbyist, during her second day of testimony Thursday. Ryan Randazzo, azcentral, "Key witness testifies in bribery trial involving Arizona water company, regulator," 7 June 2018 Both soon recanted, saying they were coerced, but to no avail. Joseph Neff, New York Times, "They Did 30 Years for Someone Else’s Crime. Then Paid for It.," 7 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'coerce.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of coerce

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for coerce

Middle English coarcen, coercen, borrowed from Anglo-French *cohercer, borrowed (with conjugation change) from Latin coercēre "to confine, shut up, restrict, restrain," from co- co- + arcēre "to hold in, prevent from approaching, keep away" — more at ark

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Statistics for coerce

Last Updated

16 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for coerce

The first known use of coerce was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for coerce



English Language Learners Definition of coerce

: to make (someone) do something by using force or threats

: to get (something) by using force or threats


co·erce | \ kō-ˈərs \
coerced; coercing

Kids Definition of coerce

: force entry 2 sense 1, compel He was coerced into giving up his lunch money.

co·erce | \ kō-ˈərs \
coerced; coercing

Legal Definition of coerce 

: to subject (a person) to coercion — compare importune, solicit

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