co·​erce | \ kō-ˈərs How to pronounce coerce (audio) \
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 How to pronounce coerce (audio) \ 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 Criticism of its actions will continue from all sides, but no one will act effectively to coerce its government to change its approach to Palestinians. Ian Bremmer, Time, 23 May 2021 Iran has used wrongful and arbitrary detention to coerce and extract concessions from other countries for over 40 years, the spokesperson said. Saphora Smith, NBC News, 30 Apr. 2021 The pressure campaign to coerce Ukrainian officials into providing damaging material about the Bidens ultimately resulted in Trump’s first impeachment by the House of Representatives in Dec. 2019. Simon Shuster, Time, 29 Apr. 2021 Giuliani’s schemes eventually morphed into a plot to coerce the Ukrainian government into falsely smearing Biden with public corruption allegations, thereby damaging his prospects in the 2020 election. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 28 Apr. 2021 Carlson has repeatedly used his show to insinuate public health officials are hiding information about coronavirus vaccines and trying to coerce unwilling patients into getting vaccinated. Joe Walsh, Forbes, 16 Apr. 2021 The searches were in connection with a probe into whether the man formerly feted as America's mayor lobbied illegally for Ukraine while caught up in Trump's scheme to coerce Kiev to damage Biden, then a potential 2020 foe. Stephen Collinson, CNN, 29 Apr. 2021 Former longtime tax collector Ray Valdes, who Greenberg defeated in 2016 to take office, also accused Greenberg of attempting to coerce him into pressuring another rival candidate to leave the race. Jason Garcia,, 22 Apr. 2021 Attempts to coerce compliance from vaccine denialists will only yield further backlash. Jacob Silverman, The New Republic, 31 Mar. 2021

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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Time Traveler for coerce

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for coerce

Last Updated

4 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Coerce.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jun. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce coerce (audio) \
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 How to pronounce coerce (audio) \
coerced; coercing

Legal Definition of coerce

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


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