en·​force | \ in-ˈfȯrs How to pronounce enforce (audio) , en-\
enforced; enforcing; enforces

Definition of enforce

transitive verb

1 : to give force to : strengthen
2 : to urge with energy enforce arguments
3 : constrain, compel enforce obedience
4 obsolete : to effect or gain by force
5 : to carry out effectively enforce laws

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from enforce

enforceability \ in-​ˌfȯr-​sə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē How to pronounce enforceability (audio) , en-​ \ noun
enforceable \ in-​ˈfȯr-​sə-​bəl How to pronounce enforceable (audio) , en-​ \ adjective
enforcement \ in-​ˈfȯr-​smənt How to pronounce enforcement (audio) , en-​ \ noun

Examples of enforce in a Sentence

Police will be enforcing the parking ban. the duty of the police is to enforce the law

Recent Examples on the Web

The two cases are the latest examples of the department’s work to enforce the state’s 50-year-old human rights act and ensuring all Minnesotans can live their lives with dignity, Lucero said. Christopher Magan, Twin Cities, "Ramsey County to pay teen lifeguard over sexual assault; West Lutheran High faces sex abuse lawsuit," 1 Aug. 2019 Evers in July issued 78 vetoes, including ones that sent an extra $65 million toward schools, canceled plans for a new prison and took away funding to enforce drug testing and work requirements in the state's food stamp program. Patrick Marley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Conservatives ask state Supreme Court to block Gov. Tony Evers' budget vetoes," 31 July 2019 Slave importation was continually practiced for nearly 180 years, until the British occupied the colony and began to enforce a ban on external slave trading. Haleluya Hadero, Quartz Africa, "Artifacts from British and African museums show the transatlantic slave trade’s inhumanity," 30 July 2019 Many homeowners ignore the requirement to buy insurance through the NFIP—and the government does little to enforce the mandate. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "How federal flood policy is, and isn’t, addressing climate change today," 29 July 2019 But public-interest advocates complained that the FCC conditions did not address the problems of the merger — higher prices, less wireless competition — and would be difficult for regulators to enforce. Dallas News, "T-Mobile's $26.5 billion Sprint deal OKed despite competition fears," 26 July 2019 The 159-page order blocks the state from enforcing the new laws, including a measure prohibiting the procedure 18 weeks into a woman’s pregnancy. Andrew Demillo, BostonGlobe.com, "Judge temporarily blocks new Arkansas anti-abortion laws," 24 July 2019 The 159-page ruling blocks the state from enforcing the new laws, including a measure prohibiting the procedure 18 weeks into pregnancy. Andrew Demillo, The Denver Post, "Judge temporarily blocks new Arkansas anti-abortion laws," 24 July 2019 The 159-page ruling blocks the state from enforcing the new laws, including a measure prohibiting the procedure 18 weeks into pregnancy. John Bacon, USA TODAY, "Arkansas judge blocks anti-abortion laws, saves state's only surgical abortion clinic," 24 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'enforce.' 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 enforce

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for enforce

Middle English, from Anglo-French enforcer, from en- + force force

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about enforce

Statistics for enforce

Last Updated

7 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for enforce

The first known use of enforce was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for enforce



English Language Learners Definition of enforce

: to make (a law, rule, etc.) active or effective : to make sure that people do what is required by (a law, rule, etc.)
: to make (something) happen : to force or cause (something)


en·​force | \ in-ˈfȯrs How to pronounce enforce (audio) \
enforced; enforcing

Kids Definition of enforce

1 : to make happen He tried to enforce cooperation.
2 : to carry out or make effective enforce a law

Other Words from enforce

enforcement \ –mənt \ noun


transitive verb
enforced; enforcing

Legal Definition of enforce

: to cause to take effect or to be fulfilled enforcing the divorce decree Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislationU.S. Constitution amend. XIX

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on enforce

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with enforce

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for enforce

Spanish Central: Translation of enforce

Nglish: Translation of enforce for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of enforce for Arabic Speakers

Comments on enforce

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


to shake or wave menacingly

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Summer 2019 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-bowl-of-peach-sorbet-with-cut-peaches-next-to-it
  • Which is a synonym of desideratum?
True or False

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

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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