verb co·erce \ kō-ˈərs \
|Updated on: 10 Jun 2018

Definition of coerce

coerced; coercing
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


play \kō-ˈər-sə-bəl\ adjective

Examples of coerce in a Sentence

  1. A confession was coerced from the suspect by police.

  2. was coerced into signing the document

Recent Examples of coerce from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of 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

Synonym Discussion of 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

COERCE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of coerce for English Language Learners

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

  • : to get (something) by using force or threats

COERCE Defined for Kids


verb co·erce \ kō-ˈərs \

Definition of coerce for Students

coerced; coercing
: 2force 1, compel
  • He was coerced into giving up his lunch money.

Law Dictionary


transitive verb co·erce \ kō-ˈərs \

legal Definition of coerce

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

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the quality or state of being insatiable

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