co·​er·​cion kō-ˈər-zhən How to pronounce coercion (audio)
: the act, process, or power of coercing
They used coercion to obtain the confession.

Examples of coercion in a Sentence

a promise obtained by coercion is never binding
Recent Examples on the Web Physical or financial threats to the mother’s wellbeing, the withholding of legal documents and controlling access to medical care would count as coercion in the legislation. Jenna Barackman, Kansas City Star, 12 Apr. 2024 In recent days, defense lawyers for Trump and his adult sons have attempted to recast Weisselberg's guilty plea as an act of legal coercion, rather than an acknowledgement of wrongdoing. Aaron Katersky, ABC News, 10 Apr. 2024 The physician would be required to ensure the individual is not making the decision under coercion or undue influence. Sam Janesch, Baltimore Sun, 9 Feb. 2024 Generally, reproductive coercion is considered any action to interfere with a woman’s choice of whether to be pregnant and use of contraceptives. Katie Bernard, Kansas City Star, 22 Mar. 2024 The justices are reviewing a lower-court ruling that sharply limited such interactions, and must clarify when government attempts to combat misinformation cross the line from permissible persuasion to unconstitutional coercion. Cat Zakrzewski, Washington Post, 18 Mar. 2024 The justices must now determine whether that injunction was appropriate and where the line falls between persuasion and coercion. Lauren Feiner, The Verge, 18 Mar. 2024 The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University said the Supreme Court needs to clarify the line between permissible persuasion and impermissible coercion – and must emphasize that applying that standard should include a full examination of the facts and context. USA TODAY, 17 Mar. 2024 Each was the work of an autocratic regime with a penchant for coercion and violence. Hal Brands, Foreign Affairs, 26 Jan. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'coercion.' 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 cohercion, borrowed from Anglo-French cohercioun, borrowed from Late Latin coerctiōn-, coerctiō, by-form of Latin coercitiōn-, coercitiō, from coerci-, variant stem of coercēre "to coerce" + -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of verbal action

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near coercion

Cite this Entry

“Coercion.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Apr. 2024.

Legal Definition


co·​er·​cion kō-ˈər-zhən, -shən How to pronounce coercion (audio)
: the use of express or implied threats of violence or reprisal (as discharge from employment) or other intimidating behavior that puts a person in immediate fear of the consequences in order to compel that person to act against his or her will
also : the defense that one acted under coercion see also defense, duress compare undue influence

More from Merriam-Webster on coercion

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