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 President Donald Trump's one-time national security advisor John Bolton writes in a forthcoming book that his former boss' attempt to coerce Ukraine into investigating Joe Biden wasn't his only foreign misstep. Ledyard King, USA TODAY, "John Bolton's book expected to allege that Ukraine wasn't Trump's only foreign misconduct," 13 June 2020 The woman said the parties in the other car had made threatening gestures toward her and coerced her to withdraw money from an ATM in order to pay them for the accident and damages. cleveland, "Man, 72, suspects son, 41, threw eggs at his house: University Heights Police Blotter," 14 Feb. 2020 The Police Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children Unit started investigating reports in the fall of an individual who used social media platforms to send explicit images and videos to minors, and coerced them to send explicit content to him. Lauren Hernández,, "SF man renews sex offender registration while carrying cell phone full of child porn, police say," 6 Dec. 2019 Instead, the family has gathered together under the ruse of a wedding as Haohao (Han Chen), Billi’s cousin, has been coerced into marrying his girlfriend of only a few months. N.e.g., The Economist, "“The Farewell” is a poignant study of family, tradition and identity," 16 July 2019 The House approved articles of impeachment on Dec. 18 accusing Trump of abusing his office by trying to coerce Ukraine to bolster his own political fortunes, then stonewall Congress by withholding documents and barring testimony from top aides. Todd J. Gillman, Dallas News, "Bolton willing to testify on Trump-Ukraine but Cornyn, Cruz resist as impeachment trial looms," 14 Jan. 2020 The central question of the impeachment probe is whether Trump tried to coerce Zelensky to investigate his political rivals, including 2020 presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Anchorage Daily News, "Attacking witnesses is Trump’s core defense strategy in fighting impeachment," 19 Nov. 2019 But a great piece of literature does not try to coerce you to believe it or to agree with it. Meghan Cox Gurdon, WSJ, "Children’s Books: Stirring Up Fresh Life Endlessly," 21 Dec. 2018 In each of the videos, Kim prods and pokes, trying to coerce each sister into flattering words about her weight. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "Kardashian’s sisters said she looked anorexic. She took it as a compliment.," 3 Aug. 2018

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

27 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Coerce.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Aug. 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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More from Merriam-Webster on coerce

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for coerce

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with coerce

Spanish Central: Translation of coerce

Nglish: Translation of coerce for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of coerce for Arabic Speakers

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