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 driver, Mohammad Salas, denied the charge, saying his confession was coerced. Thomas Erdbrink, New York Times, "Iran Is Changing, but Not in Ways Trump Thinks," 25 June 2018 McCoy is accused of actively pimping since December 2017 and allegedly threatened and coerced women into prostitution, the Associated Press reported, citing police documents. Ryan Gaydos, Fox News, "Freed death row inmate-turned-speaker faces fresh sex trafficking charges," 14 May 2018 Critics have long argued that adult video is a magnet for creepy fans, coerced young women and STDs, claims the industry denies. The Washington Post,, "'We lost 5 women': Porn industry reckons with assault allegations and a string of deaths," 18 Feb. 2018 Heisey, who told The Post he’s never called Woodard, was charged with a misdemeanor for using obscene language with the intent to coerce, intimidate or harass another person. Ian Shapira, Washington Post, "He once defended the poor in court. Now he defends white supremacists.," 2 July 2018 Some researchers see drug courts as coerced, rather than mandatory treatment, because people are still given a choice: go to jail or enter drug treatment. Fox News, "Should people with drug addictions be forced into rehab?," 24 June 2018 The warning is designed to stop police from coercing suspects into confessing. Vic Ryckaert, Indianapolis Star, "Indiana Supreme Court rules that students are entitled to Miranda warnings," 21 June 2018 Shahnawaz believes that her brother was coerced into a false confession and that his detention might had been racially motivated., "Why Was A Pakistani 23-Year-Old Detained Despite Having A Student Visa?," 11 July 2018 During the trial, Jacques Rivera’s attorneys alleged that Guevara coerced a 12-year-old boy, the only witness in a 1988 slaying, into identifying Rivera as the killer. Washington Post, "Abortion law requiring waiting period rejected," 30 June 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

11 Nov 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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Comments on coerce

What made you want to look up coerce? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


noxious or harmful

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