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

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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 My dining table is flexible enough to play multiple roles, but also separate enough from other spaces to enforce divisions between the day's activities. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "The Dining Table Is Not Dead," 6 May 2020 West African protests frequently were fueled by police violence used to enforce lockdowns. Ryan Lenora Brown, The Christian Science Monitor, "Ebola experts’ tips to fight COVID-19: Listen. Build trust. Show respect.," 5 May 2020 Security guard Calvin Munerlyn was enforcing a measure instituted by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer that requires customers to wear masks when shopping. Tanya A. Christian, Essence, "Dispute Over Face Mask Ends In One Man’s Death," 5 May 2020 Since states began enforcing social distancing measures in mid-March, apparel sales are now down more than 50%. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "J.Crew Has Officially Filed for Bankruptcy," 4 May 2020 Quarantines were not being enforced, and people gathered in places like the Royal Exchange. Popular Science, "This 17th-century plague diary hits a little too close to home," 1 May 2020 That ban is enforced via smartphone apps that must be shown by all domestic travellers. The Economist, "Chaguan China plans to crush new covid outbreaks with tough measures," 30 Apr. 2020 To protect people’s right to privacy, countries (including Singapore) say that contact tracing will be used strictly for disease control and cannot be used to enforce lockdowns or quarantines. Manavi Kapur, Quartz India, "The coronavirus app Narendra Modi endorsed is a privacy disaster," 15 Apr. 2020 Many streamers don’t tolerate that kind of behavior and have moderators who enforce strict rules in the chat. Adam Epstein, Quartz, "I thought playing video games was unproductive – until coronavirus," 31 Mar. 2020

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for enforce

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for enforce

Last Updated

14 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Enforce.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/enforce. Accessed 25 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for enforce


How to pronounce enforce (audio)

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
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

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More from Merriam-Webster on enforce

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for enforce

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with enforce

Spanish Central: Translation of enforce

Nglish: Translation of enforce for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of enforce for Arabic Speakers

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