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

The 49-year-old trusted his gut, which compelled him to scurry inside the 7-Eleven in front of him and hide out of fear. Alice Yin, chicagotribune.com, "Man, woman in critical condition after shooting in front of 7-Eleven in Chicago Lawn," 1 July 2019 The gameplay is just O.K. and many of the puzzle mechanics grew stale by its second half, but the characters and story compelled me to finish. Matthew Gault, Time, "The Best Video Games of 2019 (So Far)," 26 June 2019 May a state decide that its interest in enforcing such laws compels it to deny religious exemptions? Nr Editors, National Review, "The Week," 20 June 2019 So our government may have to compel it, whether through the Green New Deal or some other legislation. Emily Atkin, The New Republic, "Climate Change Is the Symptom. Consumer Culture Is the Disease.," 11 June 2019 But Sanders has not, until now, addressed what compelled her to take Biden’s offer over the rest. Mattie Kahn, Glamour, "Symone Sanders Worked for Bernie in 2016. How’d She End Up on Team Biden?," 24 May 2019 Also on Wednesday, May 15, your planetary ruler, warrior Mars, enters sensitive Cancer, compelling you to learn more about the world outside of your own. Randon Rosenbohm, Allure, "What May’s Scorpio Horoscope Predictions Mean for You," 30 Apr. 2019 While the broadcast networks typically carry presidential addresses, there is no requirement or regulation compelling them to do so. Josh Dawsey, The Seattle Times, "Trump to make prime-time address, visit US-Mexico border amid shutdown stalemate," 7 Jan. 2019 Captain Sandy struggled to understand why he was compelled to include onions. Washington Post, "Here’s to the class-conflicted, workplace-inappropriate ‘Below Deck’ — TV’s ideal mental vacation," 13 June 2019

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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Learn More about compel

Statistics for compel

Last Updated

4 Jul 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

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