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

transitive verb

: to compel to an act or choice
was coerced into agreeing
abusers who coerce their victims into silence
: to achieve by force or threat
coerce compliance
coerce obedience
: to restrain or dominate by force
religion in the past has tried to coerce the irreligiousW. R. Inge
coercible 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 Instead, migrants agreed, or were coerced, to leave the country after being apprehended. Katrina Burgess, The Conversation, 6 May 2024 In the documentary, Daniels said Trump coerced her. Marley Malenfant, USA TODAY, 19 Mar. 2024 See all Example Sentences for coerce 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'coerce.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

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

Dictionary Entries Near coerce

Cite this Entry

“Coerce.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


co·​erce kō-ˈərs How to pronounce coerce (audio)
coerced; coercing
: to cause someone to do something by force or threat

Legal Definition


transitive verb
co·​erce kō-ˈərs How to pronounce coerce (audio)
coerced; coercing
: to subject (a person) to coercion compare importune, solicit

More from Merriam-Webster on coerce

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