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

HRW’s report also highlights other tactics used to silence Palestinian dissent and punish activists, among them the seizing of phones, leaving investigations and charges open, and coercing detainees to promise to stop any further criticism. Mohammed Daraghmeh, The Seattle Times, "Human Rights Watch: Palestinians crush dissent with torture," 23 Oct. 2018 That’s allowed North Korea to escape some of the pain Trump hoped would coerce North Korea to end its nuclear program. Alex Ward, Vox, "Trump just canceled Pompeo’s big trip to North Korea. That’s a really bad sign.," 24 Aug. 2018 Part 1 saw defense attorneys Jerome Buting and Dean Strang fight for Avery and Dassey's innocence—in Dassey's case in particular, the lawyers argued that his confession was falsely coerced by detectives when Dassey was a teenager. Bridget Read, Vogue, "Making a Murderer," 25 Sep. 2018 Jonny Barrett emerged as a raw talent, coerced by classmate Cale Millen to play football. Matt Massey, The Seattle Times, "‘It’s like telepathy’: Receiver Jonny Barrett’s connection with QB Cale Millen has Mount Si thinking big," 27 Aug. 2018 One judge said that voters talked of being coerced. Hamza Hendawi And Samy Magdy, Fox News, "Egypt tries to boost voter turnout with incentives, threats," 28 Mar. 2018 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

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

9 Dec 2018

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on coerce

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with coerce

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for coerce

Spanish Central: Translation of coerce

Nglish: Translation of coerce for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of coerce for Arabic Speakers

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).


to make faulty or ineffective

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