compel

verb
com·​pel | \ kəm-ˈpel How to pronounce compel (audio) \
compelled; compelling

Definition of compel

transitive verb

1 : to drive or urge forcefully or irresistibly Hunger compelled him to eat. The general was compelled to surrender.
2 : to cause to do or occur by overwhelming pressure Public opinion compelled her to sign the bill.
3 archaic : to drive together

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Other Words from compel

compellable \ kəm-​ˈpe-​lə-​bəl How to pronounce compel (audio) \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for compel

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

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The prefix com- acts as a strengthener in this word; thus, to compel is to drive powerfully, or force. So you may feel compelled to speak to a friend about his drinking, or compelled to reveal a secret in order to prevent something from happening. A compulsion is usually a powerful inner urge; a compulsive shopper or a compulsive gambler usually can't hold onto money for long. You might not want to do something unless there's a compelling reason; however, a compelling film is simply one that seems serious and important.

Examples of compel in a Sentence

Illness compelled him to stay in bed. We took steps to compel their cooperation.
Recent Examples on the Web The legislature then commanded the sergeant-at-arms to track down the missing members and compel them to return. Stephen L. Carter Bloomberg Opinion, Star Tribune, 14 July 2021 As the days tick by, lawmakers have brainstormed ways to incentivize tenants or compel them into registering for the program. Washington Post, 10 July 2021 The petition wants the court to order Berberian and Spanos to sell the trust’s interest in the Chargers and exercise a provision of the trust that would compel the team’s other shareholders to do the same. Nathan Fenno, Los Angeles Times, 4 June 2021 But investors likely thought the disappointing jobs numbers would compel the Federal Reserve to maintain its near-zero interest rate policy and massive bond-buying program – two of the biggest factors in the stock market’s yearlong rally. Palash Ghosh, Forbes, 7 May 2021 Organizers hope the process of publicly laying out evidence will compel international action to tackle alleged abuses against the Uyghurs. Mike Corder, Star Tribune, 10 June 2021 Research suggests that work search requirements of some form in normal economic times can compel workers to find their next job and reduce their time on unemployment. New York Times, 16 May 2021 At the other end of the spectrum, almost everyone agrees that the confrontation clause still means that the state cannot compel the accused to submit to a remote trial. Eric Scigliano, The Atlantic, 13 Apr. 2021 Burns hopes the urgency of present-day voting rights and racial equality movements will compel businesses to act. Elizabeth Elkind, CBS News, 31 Mar. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'compel.' 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 compel

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for compel

Middle English compeller "to coerce, force, constrain," borrowed from Anglo-French compeller, borrowed from Latin compellere "to drive together, force to go, force (to a view, course of action)," from com- com- + pellere "to beat against, push, strike, rouse, impel" — more at pulse entry 1

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Learn More About compel

Time Traveler for compel

Time Traveler

The first known use of compel was in the 14th century

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Statistics for compel

Last Updated

24 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Compel.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/compel. Accessed 24 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for compel

compel

verb

English Language Learners Definition of compel

: to force (someone) to do something
: to make (something) happen : to force (something)

compel

verb
com·​pel | \ kəm-ˈpel How to pronounce compel (audio) \
compelled; compelling

Kids Definition of compel

1 : to make (as a person) do something by the use of physical, moral, or mental pressure : force … so greatly did hunger compel him, he was not above taking what did not belong to him.— Jack London, The Call of the Wild
2 : to make happen by force He compelled obedience.

compel

transitive verb
com·​pel | \ kəm-ˈpel How to pronounce compel (audio) \
compelled; compelling

Legal Definition of compel

: to cause to do or occur by overwhelming pressure and especially by authority or law cannot compel the defendant to testify the result…is compelled by, the original understanding of the fourteenth amendment's equal protection clause— R. H. Bork

More from Merriam-Webster on compel

Nglish: Translation of compel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of compel for Arabic Speakers

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