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

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

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 Androulakis, the Greek opposition leader, filed a lawsuit with Greece’s top court Monday to try to compel Greek authorities to investigate. Monika Pronczuk, BostonGlobe.com, 27 July 2022 James wants a judge to compel documents from Trump and for Donald Trump, Jr., and Ivanka Trump to testify. Alison Durkee, Forbes, 20 Jan. 2022 But with the Bannon decision in limbo, much of the committee's work hangs in the balance, most notably its ability to compel cooperation from Trump allies who so far have remained elusive. Zachary Cohen And Evan Perez, CNN, 6 Nov. 2021 Next year, the Environmental Protection Agency and Transportation Department plan to introduce a new rule designed to compel auto companies to rapidly ramp up sales of electric vehicles. New York Times, 19 July 2022 The web designer, Lorie Smith, argues the law violates her free speech and religious rights, and the justices will weigh whether applying a public-accommodation law to compel an artist to speak or stay silent violates the First Amendment. Melissa Quinn, CBS News, 30 June 2022 Russian officials are open about leveraging the prospect of mass starvation to compel Western governments to lift sanctions harming the Russian economy. Stuart Anderson, Forbes, 21 June 2022 The White House would have to take extreme steps to compel companies to refine more right now. Evan Halper, Anchorage Daily News, 21 June 2022 The White House would have to take extreme steps to compel companies to refine more right now. Evan Halper, Washington Post, 20 June 2022 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for compel

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near compel

compeer

compel

compellable witness

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Statistics for compel

Last Updated

5 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Compel.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/compel. Accessed 12 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for compel

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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