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

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 In the case of the economist, the report said, Chinese officials in 2019 detained and tried to coerce him to share data and information on U.S. government policies, including on tariffs while the U.S. and China were in the midst of a trade war. Nick Timiraos, WSJ, 26 July 2022 Predators who find accounts belonging to minors can coerce those minors into sharing photos and videos of themselves and then groom them to start taking and sharing more proactive content over time — often by posing as other minors. Audrey Conklin, Fox News, 26 July 2022 Prosecutors said Inciardi and Kosinski tried to coerce Henley to buy back the manuscripts while simultaneously trying to sell them through Christie's and Sotheby's auction houses. Sonia Moghe, CNN, 12 July 2022 Young girls often aren’t attacked by strangers who hide under rocks; they are attacked by their own fathers, stepfathers and uncles, who coerce silence from their vulnerable victims by threatening to harm the girls’ families. Monica Hesse, Washington Post, 14 July 2022 Cannizzaro’s office used fake subpoenas to coerce witnesses into appearing, and in some cases, sought the jailing of crime victims to get their testimony. Jamiles Lartey, NBC News, 6 July 2022 But no such protections existed in the police station, where interrogators could coerce a suspect to confess. New York Times, 4 Feb. 2022 But for immigrant workers, that reprisal can be even more perilous, with employers potentially using the threat of deportation to coerce silence. San Diego Union-Tribune, 26 Apr. 2022 The Committee has a firm legal obligation to negotiate this matter directly with Trump and his attorneys before attempting to coerce and bully me into cooperating with its highly partisan effort. Ryan Nobles, Paula Reid And Annie Grayer, CNN, 2 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

3 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Coerce.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for coerce


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.


transitive verb
co·​erce | \ kō-ˈərs How to pronounce coerce (audio) \
coerced; coercing

Legal Definition of coerce

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

More from Merriam-Webster on coerce

Nglish: Translation of coerce for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of coerce for Arabic Speakers


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