compulsion

noun
com·​pul·​sion | \ kəm-ˈpəl-shən How to pronounce compulsion (audio) \

Definition of compulsion

1a : an act of compelling tried to get them to cooperate without using compulsion : the state of being compelled He was acting under compulsion.
b : a force that compels
2 : an irresistible persistent impulse to perform an act (such as excessive hand washing) her compulsion to repeatedly check and recheck the stove to be certain that it is turned off also : the act itself Gambling is a compulsion with him.

Examples of compulsion in a Sentence

I gave in to one of my compulsions and ordered the chocolate dessert. We should be able to get them to cooperate without using compulsion.
Recent Examples on the Web Social games forced players to turn friends into resources to feed a design based on compulsion rather than diversion. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, 13 Mar. 2022 Two years of wildfires and heat waves in Portland had stirred up something sleeping inside her, a compulsion to prepare for disaster. New York Times, 6 Feb. 2022 In fact, Brown was a seductive iconoclast with a Katharine Hepburn mane and a compulsion for ignoring the rules. Anna Holmes, The New Yorker, 31 Jan. 2022 In Illinois, compulsion and coercion are not legal defenses for first-degree murder, Mansfield said. chicagotribune.com, 29 Jan. 2022 Some interpreters also consider intense hunger and thirst as well as compulsion (someone threatening another to do something) exceptions. Fiza Pirani, ajc, 8 Apr. 2022 Each of these observers was given a tic, motif, or symbolic compulsion to distinguish and vivify his or her narration. Mark Greif, The Atlantic, 15 Mar. 2022 Perhaps the biggest perk for younger children is that children who are taught empathy are generally better able to regulate big feelings, show less aggression and feel less compulsion to bully. Washington Post, 28 Feb. 2022 Lacking evidence for masks is a sufficient reason to justify their removal — compulsion should not continue without reason — but this paucity is only half of the question. Daniel Buck, National Review, 5 Feb. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'compulsion.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of compulsion

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for compulsion

Middle English compulsion, compulsioun "coercion," borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French compulsion, borrowed from Latin compulsiōn-, compulsiō, derivative, with the suffix of verbal action -tiōn-, -tiō, of compellere "to drive together, force to go, force (to a view, course of action)" (with -s- from past participle compulsus); (sense 2) translation of German Zwang — more at compel

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Time Traveler for compulsion

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The first known use of compulsion was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near compulsion

compulsatory

compulsion

compulsion neurosis

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Statistics for compulsion

Last Updated

14 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Compulsion.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/compulsion. Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for compulsion

compulsion

noun
com·​pul·​sion | \ kəm-ˈpəl-shən How to pronounce compulsion (audio) \

Kids Definition of compulsion

1 : a very strong urge to do something He felt a compulsion to say something.
2 : a force that makes someone do something She was acting under compulsion.
3 : an act or the state of forcing an action They got what they wanted through compulsion.

compulsion

noun
com·​pul·​sion | \ kəm-ˈpəl-shən How to pronounce compulsion (audio) \

Medical Definition of compulsion

: an irresistible persistent impulse to perform an act (as excessive hand washing) also : the act itself compare obsession, phobia

compulsion

noun
com·​pul·​sion | \ kəm-ˈpəl-shən How to pronounce compulsion (audio) \

Legal Definition of compulsion

1 : an act of compelling (as by threat or intimidation) specifically : coercion a payment exacted by lawless compulsion — E. A. Farnsworth and W. F. Young
2 : the state of being compelled specifically : duress

Note: Compulsion can make a contract voidable or be a ground for damages or restitution. Compulsion may also be a defense to a criminal act.

More from Merriam-Webster on compulsion

Nglish: Translation of compulsion for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of compulsion for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about compulsion

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