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.

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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

In its current state, internet addiction research focuses primarily on compulsion around gaming, gambling, and pornography—studying specific uses of the internet rather than the overarching issue itself. Carrie Battan, Harper's BAZAAR, "Escaping the Seduction of Your Smartphone," 26 July 2018 But not all social behaviors are entirely under individual mental control, and not all compulsions are just individual choices contorted into pathological obsession. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, "Why Is There a ‘Gaming Disorder’ But No ‘Smartphone Disorder?’," 28 June 2018 Viola’s an easy sell—a badass, successful lesbian who projects confidence, but is also dealing (or not dealing) with her own destructive compulsions. Rachel Epstein, Marie Claire, "'The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls' Is a Stunning Debut From Anissa Gray," 1 Apr. 2019 According to her coworkers, that compulsion presents itself in obsessive preparation. Vanessa Chow, Glamour, "Introducing Kate McKinnon, Movie Star," 26 June 2018 And responding to these sorts of compulsions in such a matter-of-fact way also reinforces them, in a way. Kavin Senapathy, SELF, "If You Love Someone With OCD, You May Need to Stop Reassuring Them That Everything Is OK," 19 July 2018 Its themes—obsession, compulsion, control and guilt—were Hitchcock’s themes. John Anderson, WSJ, "The Heights of Obsession," 22 Feb. 2019 And yet, when the caliga was on the other foot, Christians had different opinions about religious oppression and compulsion. Tom Bissell, New York Times, "Why Did Christianity Prevail?," 13 Feb. 2018 In total, 27 countries in the world mandate that their citizens vote, and the degree to which compulsion is enforced varies. Chayenne Polimedio, Vox, "Is voting a civic right or a civic duty?," 6 Nov. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of compulsion

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

History and Etymology for compulsion

Middle English, from Anglo-French or Late Latin; Anglo-French, from Late Latin compulsion-, compulsio, from Latin compellere to compel

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Statistics for compulsion

Last Updated

15 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for compulsion

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

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More Definitions for compulsion

compulsion

noun

English Language Learners Definition of compulsion

: a very strong desire to do something
: the act of using force or pressure to make someone do something
: the state of being forced to do something

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

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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.

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