co·erce | \kō-ˈərs \
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 \ 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

Heisey, who told The Post he’s never called Woodard, was charged with a misdemeanor for using obscene language with the intent to coerce, intimidate or harass another person. Ian Shapira, Washington Post, "He once defended the poor in court. Now he defends white supremacists.," 2 July 2018 Some researchers see drug courts as coerced, rather than mandatory treatment, because people are still given a choice: go to jail or enter drug treatment. Fox News, "Should people with drug addictions be forced into rehab?," 24 June 2018 The warning is designed to stop police from coercing suspects into confessing. Vic Ryckaert, Indianapolis Star, "Indiana Supreme Court rules that students are entitled to Miranda warnings," 21 June 2018 Shahnawaz believes that her brother was coerced into a false confession and that his detention might had been racially motivated., "Why Was A Pakistani 23-Year-Old Detained Despite Having A Student Visa?," 11 July 2018 During the trial, Jacques Rivera’s attorneys alleged that Guevara coerced a 12-year-old boy, the only witness in a 1988 slaying, into identifying Rivera as the killer. Washington Post, "Abortion law requiring waiting period rejected," 30 June 2018 The lawsuit says there was a video recording of the interrogation that would have shown how Royer had been coerced. Mark Alesia, Indianapolis Star, "New evidence in 2002 murder sparks another wrongful conviction claim in Elkhart," 13 June 2018 The lawsuit filed by Jacques Rivera accuses former Detective Reynaldo Guevara of coercing the only eyewitness to Valentin’s shooting — a 12-year-old boy — into identifying Rivera as the gunman. Jason Meisner,, "Controversial ex-Chicago cop expected to take the Fifth at trial over wrongful conviction," 5 June 2018 Handy was found to have coerced a murder confession from Edwin Chandler by threatening to lock up his sister and take away her children. Andrew Wolfson, The Courier-Journal, "Special prosecutor named for ex-cop who helped convict 3 innocent men," 18 May 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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Statistics for coerce

Last Updated

14 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for coerce

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

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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 \
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 \
coerced; coercing

Legal Definition of coerce 

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

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