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 coercible (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 Months later, her hand was forced by the revelation Trump had tried to coerce Ukraine into investigating Hunter Biden. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, "The Democrats’ Maddening Cowardice Is Carrying Over into the Biden Era," 25 Nov. 2020 Dropping the attempt to coerce these nuns against their beliefs wouldn’t threaten Obamacare. Star Tribune, "How to heal U.S.: Some suggestions for President-elect Biden," 13 Nov. 2020 These relics have enormous power to unify feeling, and coerce it. Washington Post, "The Army’s new museum is what we need at this moment of constitutional peril," 12 Nov. 2020 Another shows how abusers can use declarations of love to coerce and control their partner, and to justify abuse. Taylor Deville,, "Yeardley Love was killed by her ex-boyfriend 10 years ago. Her mother is determined to save others from the same abuse.," 6 Nov. 2020 In the lawsuit filed against Uber on Thursday, drivers claim that the messages violated a state law that forbids employers to coerce their employees to participate in political activity. Kate Conger, New York Times, "It’s a Ballot Fight for Survival for Gig Companies Like Uber," 23 Oct. 2020 China directed its operatives to coerce people in the U.S. from 2016 to 2019, according to the complaint. Chris Strohm,, "Justice Department Arrests 8 Chinese Individuals for Illegal U.S. Operation," 28 Oct. 2020 Furthermore, this order is not intended to coerce, compel or even encourage any grand juror to come forward. Tessa Duvall, The Courier-Journal, "Two Breonna Taylor grand jurors are telling their story. Why that's important," 27 Oct. 2020 Now, 25 years later, the Channel 4 documentary, Diana: The Truth Behind the Interview has claims that Bashir may have manipulated the late royal to coerce her into participating in the interview. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "A Handwritten Note from Princess Diana Claiming She Wasn't Manipulated Into Her BBC Interview Has Gone Missing," 23 Oct. 2020

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

30 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Coerce.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2020.

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More Definitions for coerce


How to pronounce coerce (audio)

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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