com·​pel·​ling | \kəm-ˈpe-liŋ \

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

Although no constitutional right is absolute, governmental policies that burden First Amendment rights are strictly scrutinized by the courts and will be upheld only if based upon a compelling governmental interest. David B. Rivkin And Randal John Meyer, WSJ, "Another IRS Free-Speech Scandal," 22 Nov. 2018 For all those denim lovers out there: Gigi Hadid has just made a very compelling case for bike shorts. Avery Matera, Teen Vogue, "Gigi Hadid Wore Denim Bike Shorts in NYC," 11 Oct. 2018 Republicans have no compelling electoral interest in fixing the nation’s immigration laws. The Economist, "America’s immigration system is broken," 28 June 2018 Other factors are more compelling: The plant and animal life in several images is based on religious allegory, not scientific knowledge. Edward Rothstein, WSJ, "‘Extreme Nature!’ Review: Horror and Beauty in the World Around Us," 13 Nov. 2018 Despite Facebook’s backing, virtual reality remains a niche field of technology popular primarily among video game fans looking for even more compelling entertainment. Michael Liedtke, The Seattle Times, "Oculus co-founder Brendan Iribe joins exodus from Facebook," 24 Oct. 2018 Echo Arena is arguably more compelling, albeit with an arcadey twist. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Feel better about your PlayStation VR with sweet new games Astro Bot, Firewall," 11 Oct. 2018 Hyundai i20 five-door will be available with a Phantom Black two-tone roof, offering customers more compelling options to personalise their car. Stacy Argo, Houston Chronicle, "Sleek, modern shower doors provide streamlined look," 8 July 2018 Bringing Soviet characters in from the cold, mapping their private conflicts with geopolitical ones, makes more compelling drama. The Economist, "The death of the archetypal Russian villain," 28 June 2018

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

see compel

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Statistics for compelling

Last Updated

7 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for compelling

The first known use of compelling was in 1606

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More Definitions for compelling



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

What made you want to look up compelling? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a nest or breeding place

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