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 compellable (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

Did You Know?

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

Moreover, by negotiating directly with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Mr. Trump has broken the model of negotiating multilaterally in the hope of compelling Beijing to push Pyongyang to denuclearize. Michael Auslin, WSJ, "Trump’s Successful Pivot to Asia," 15 Jan. 2019 Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, ended the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan in 2014 with the aim of compelling the Afghans to provide for their own defense. Robert Burns, The Seattle Times, "Rise in US deaths in Afghanistan clouds outlook for peace," 28 Nov. 2018 Meet the Fair Labor Standards Act Legal experts who discussed these wage claims with Ars tend to agree that there's not much hope in compelling anyone formerly affiliated with EXUSMED to pay up. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "“He never paid us a cent”—man suing Tesla has his own lawsuit-filled past," 31 Oct. 2018 There are so many reasons for James to sign with the Lakers—the cap space, the history, the lifestyle, his off-court interests, his Brentwood mansion—that no other location could offer as compelling a case. Rohan Nadkarni, SI.com, "The Lakers Always Made the Most Sense for LeBron James," 1 July 2018 The nation's top offense is imposing enough without compelling those bats to seek vengeance. Nick Moyle, Houston Chronicle, "UT drops Game 1 of super regional to Tennessee Tech," 9 June 2018 Lots of artists promote their politics on social media but aren’t always as compelled to do so in their lyrics. Dayna Evans, GQ, "The Throwback Grooves of Natalie Prass," 30 May 2018 On June 27, the nation’s highest court voted 5-4 that no public union can compel nonmembers to pay fees for collective bargaining and that doing so was a violation of free speech. Andrew J. Campa, latimes.com, "Local unions react to Janus ruling with uncertainty, hope," 11 July 2018 The decision means the reporter, Frances Robles, will be compelled to testify at the trial or face contempt of court charges. New York Times, "Court Ruling Means Times Reporter Must Testify in ‘Baby Hope’ Trial," 27 June 2018

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 compellen, from Anglo-French compeller, from Latin compellere, from com- + pellere to drive — more at felt

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Statistics for compel

Last Updated

14 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for compel

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

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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.
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

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More from Merriam-Webster on compel

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with compel

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for compel

Spanish Central: Translation of compel

Nglish: Translation of compel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of compel for Arabic Speakers

Comments on compel

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