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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Remember, that was Dwyane Wade’s final season, which could have made the extra games particularly compelling, with Wade’s final game producing a triple-double in Brooklyn. Ira Winderman,, "Winderman: Play-in round changing face of NBA, could have altered Heat history | Commentary," 3 Apr. 2021 The story’s plot is fast-paced, but the reason the text is compelling—and upsetting—is Lem’s skill at bending language to try to imitate a profoundly nonhuman voice. Elvia Wilk, The Atlantic, "How Will Machines Choose to Tell Stories?," 28 Mar. 2021 This long-incoming acknowledgment that an Asian American can be compelling, surprising, interesting, and funny is still recognition on Hollywood’s terms, still an invitation to participate in an industry that’s long been warped and broken. Alison Willmore, Vulture, "What Was the Asian American Character Actor?," 26 Mar. 2021 Coupled with 100 Premium Resume & Cover Letter Templates by Resume Inventor, your resume will be professional, compelling, and easy to change up when necessary. Greta Good, Chron, "This AI-powered resume master class will help land you your dream job," 17 Mar. 2021 Their mother, the professor, is the same as always: vivid, compelling. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, "Back to School," 8 Mar. 2021 Unlike at the Oscars, there’s no playing it safe—and that has made the Globes all the more compelling. Vogue, "The 23 Best Golden Globes Beauty Looks of All Time," 26 Feb. 2021 Two months remain in the regular season, and the MVP race is compelling. Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY, "Should LeBron James have more MVP awards? Yes, but it's complicated," 20 Mar. 2021 Milioti is most compelling as this Hazel, her delicate-doll face belying the ferocity of a woman who's always had to take care of her own damn self., "Cristin Milioti keeps HBO Max's tech comedy Made for Love from crashing: Review," 19 Mar. 2021

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.

See More

First Known Use of compelling

1606, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for compelling

from present participle of compel

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about compelling

Time Traveler for compelling

Time Traveler

The first known use of compelling was in 1606

See more words from the same year

Statistics for compelling

Last Updated

9 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Compelling.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Apr. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!