compulsion

noun
com·​pul·​sion | \ kəm-ˈpəl-shən \

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

Partly that’s due to the straightforward virtuosity of his playing, and partly to his compulsion to transcend and blend styles. New York Times, "13 Pop, Rock and Jazz Concerts to Check Out in N.Y.C. This Weekend," 31 May 2018 This movie, directed by Ben Lewin from a Robert Rodat script (one adapted from Nicholas Dawidoff’s fascinating 1994 biography of Berg), relishes Berg’s compulsion to remain an enigma even to those closest to him. Robert Rodat, New York Times, "Review: ‘The Catcher Was a Spy’ Shares a Peculiar History Lesson," 21 June 2018 That could be germs, worry about a fire, or a personal safety concern (though compulsions aren't always logically linked to an obsession). Korin Miller, SELF, "What's the Difference Between Occasional Obsessive Thoughts and OCD?," 1 June 2018 His compulsion fed a lyricism that separated him from peers. Andy Mccullough, latimes.com, "The 'Bipolar Rock 'N' Roller' calls some of combat sports' biggest events. But his real fight is against the stigma of mental illness," 23 May 2018 Eighty minutes had not absolved me of my compulsion to check in—with my inbox, my text messages, Instagram DMs, Twitter notifications, and more. Carrie Battan, Harper's BAZAAR, "Escaping the Seduction of Your Smartphone," 26 July 2018 If smartphones are indeed a social concern, bureaucracy offers one way to break the back of their compulsion. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, "Driving Without a Smartphone," 10 July 2018 Balzac's Sylvain Pons, Proust's Charles Swann, and, most of all, Huysmans's Jean des Esseintes are all presented as victims of an insatiable affliction, the obsessive compulsion to possess. James Mcauley, Town & Country, "A Secret Paris Museum and an Aristocratic Family Decimated by the Holocaust," 9 Feb. 2017 However, the accusations made by Evans and the unnamed woman involved forcible compulsion and therefore were not subject to a statute of limitations under a New York law changed in 2001. Eliana Dockterman, Time, "Harvey Weinstein’s Arrest Marks a Pivotal Turning Point for the #MeToo Movement," 25 May 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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Last Updated

28 Dec 2018

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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 \

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 \

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 \

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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