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 Now, with nine months until the next election, this leader who has had no qualms about concentrating power has decided to try to coerce a people steeped in the values of liberty into getting vaccinated against the coronavirus. New York Times, 14 July 2021 The Mexicans were all working legally in the United States, but, according to the charges, Midway West Amusements withheld their visas and passports to coerce them to continue working for the company. Scott D. Pierce, The Salt Lake Tribune, 2 July 2021 Morris threatened to call the police on the girl for little things, like borrowing money from him without asking, to coerce her, investigators said. Cory Shaffer, cleveland, 29 June 2021 The charges include an offense of violence and a charge defined as a federal crime of terrorism — destroying property to intimidate or coerce the government — punishable by up to 10 years in prison, prosecutors said. Washington Post, 2 Mar. 2021 And in 2019, the GAO ruled against President Trump's hold on Ukrainian aid to coerce the country's leaders to hand over political ammunition on potential Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden. Nicole Sganga, CBS News, 15 June 2021 Reports that Epstein leveraged his connection to Wexner to coerce girls prompted an investigation into Wexner and L Brands in 2019. Jemima Mcevoy, Forbes, 8 June 2021 Pro-life publications and organizations that coerce pregnant women to relinquish their unborn children cite an estimate of 36 waiting families for each child adopted. Js Lee,, 19 May 2021 Cultish thoroughly examines the ways that words can be manipulated to build a sense of community, enforce collective values, shut down debate, or even coerce damaging behavior in the name of ideology. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, 10 June 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

22 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Coerce.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jul. 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.


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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