com·​pel·​ling | \ kəm-ˈpe-liŋ How to pronounce compelling (audio) \

Definition of compelling

: that compels: such as
a : forceful a compelling personality a compelling desire
b : demanding attention for compelling reasons The novel was so compelling that I couldn't put it down.
c : convincing no compelling evidence

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Other Words from compelling

compellingly adverb

Examples of compelling in a Sentence

The novel was so compelling that I couldn't put it down. He made a compelling argument. I would need a very compelling reason to leave my job. She had a compelling need to share what she had heard.
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Recent Examples on the Web The writers fail to make the supporting cast nearly as compelling. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, "'Tommy' review: Edie Falco is just too good for her new CBS cop show," 6 Feb. 2020 Repeatedly, he was told that no director — not even the one who had previously directed such notable films as Tender Mercies and Breaker Morant — could possibly make this compelling enough to sustain an audience's interest. Trilby Beresford, The Hollywood Reporter, "When My Dad Won Best Picture: 'Driving Miss Daisy' Director and Daughter Reflect on the (Still Controversial) Movie, 30 Years Later," 4 Feb. 2020 Yet even more than the economic argument, the environmental argument is a compelling reason to disavow this extreme Warren proposal. David L. Bahnsen, National Review, "The Warren Fracking Ban: On Public Lands, and Heck, Everywhere Else," 28 Jan. 2020 For this candidate, those are compelling reasons to stay in the race. Bob Patterson, WSJ, "Welcome to the Party—Now Go Home," 27 Jan. 2020 Surgeon General Jerome Adams said Wednesday that there are compelling legal and scientific reasons to disapprove of such facilities, known as supervised injection sites. Kimberly Leonard, Washington Examiner, "Trump surgeon general criticizes supervised injection sites as opioid crisis response," 15 Jan. 2020 Is there some compelling reason to change the name? Letter Writers, Twin Cities, "Letters: We can’t recycle our way out of trouble," 21 Dec. 2019 Lindelof has said plainly in interviews the writers threw all of their good ideas into this season and don’t (yet) have a compelling reason, as storytellers, to continue the show. Adam Epstein, Quartz, "HBO has to think hard before making another season of “Watchmen”," 17 Dec. 2019 While #EduTok offers a compelling reason to parents, #IAmLessPlastic is targetted at government and policymakers. Niharika Sharma, Quartz India, "TikTok is desperate for an image makeover in India after a brush with the law for porn content," 8 Dec. 2019

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

1606, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for compelling

from present participle of compel

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Time Traveler for compelling

Time Traveler

The first known use of compelling was in 1606

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Statistics for compelling

Last Updated

16 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Compelling.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for compelling


How to pronounce compelling (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of compelling

: very interesting : able to capture and hold your attention
: capable of causing someone to believe or agree
: strong and forceful : causing you to feel that you must do something



Legal Definition of compelling

: that compels : tending to demand action or to convince a compelling need for disclosure a compelling argument

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Comments on compelling

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