\ˈfȯrs \

Definition of force 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a(1) : strength or energy exerted or brought to bear : cause of motion or change : active power the forces of nature the motivating force in her life

(2) capitalized used with a number to indicate the strength of the wind according to the Beaufort scale a Force 10 hurricane

b : moral or mental strength I was impressed by the force of his character.

c : capacity to persuade or convince the force of the argument

2a : military strength

b(1) : a body (as of troops or ships) assigned to a military purpose a force of 20,000 soldiers

(2) forces plural : the whole military strength (as of a nation)

c : a body of persons or things available for a particular end a labor force the missile force

d : an individual or group having the power of effective action join forces to prevent violence a force in politics

e often capitalized : police force usually used with the After his military service, he joined the force.

3 : violence, compulsion, or constraint exerted upon or against a person or thing Those who do not respond to kindness must yield to force.

4a : an agency or influence that if applied to a free body results chiefly in an acceleration of the body and sometimes in elastic deformation and other effects

b : any of the natural influences (such as electromagnetism (see electromagnetism sense 2a), gravity, the strong force, and the weak force) that exist especially between particles and determine the structure of the universe

5 : the quality of conveying impressions intensely in writing or speech stated the objectives with force

6 baseball : force-out

in force

1 : in great numbers picnickers were out in force

2 : valid, operative the ban remains in force


forced; forcing

Definition of force (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to do violence to especially : rape

2 : to compel by physical, moral, or intellectual means

3 : to make or cause especially through natural or logical necessity forced to admit my error the last minute goal forced overtime

4a : to press, drive, pass, or effect against resistance or inertia force your way through

b : to impose or thrust urgently, importunately, or inexorably force unwanted attentions on a coworker

5 : to achieve or win by strength in struggle or violence: such as

a : to win one's way into force a castle forced the mountain passes

b : to break open or through force a lock

6a : to raise or accelerate to the utmost forcing the pace

b : to produce only with unnatural or unwilling effort forced a smile

c : to wrench, strain, or use (language) with marked unnaturalness and lack of ease

7a : to hasten the rate of progress or growth of

b : to bring (plants) to maturity out of the normal season forcing lilies for Easter

8 : to induce (a particular bid or play by another player) in a card game by some conventional act, play, bid, or response

9a : to cause (a runner in baseball) to be put out on a force-out

b : to cause (a run) to be scored in baseball by giving a base on balls when the bases are full

force one's hand

: to cause one to act precipitously : force one to reveal one's purpose or intention

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Other Words from force


forceless \ˈfȯrs-​ləs \ adjective


forcer noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for force

Synonyms: Noun

foul play, violence

Synonyms: Verb

blackjack, coerce, compel, constrain, dragoon, drive, impel, impress, make, muscle, obligate, oblige, press, pressure, sandbag

Antonyms: Noun


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for force


power, force, energy, strength, might mean the ability to exert effort. power may imply latent or exerted physical, mental, or spiritual ability to act or be acted upon. the awesome power of flowing water force implies the actual effective exercise of power. used enough force to push the door open energy applies to power expended or capable of being transformed into work. a worker with boundless energy strength applies to the quality or property of a person or thing that makes possible the exertion of force or the withstanding of strain, pressure, or attack. use weight training to build your strength might implies great or overwhelming power or strength. the belief that might makes right


force, compel, coerce, constrain, oblige mean to make someone or something yield. force is the general term and implies the overcoming of resistance by the exertion of strength, power, or duress. forced to flee for their lives compel typically suggests overcoming of resistance or unwillingness by an irresistible force. compelled to admit my mistake coerce suggests overcoming resistance or unwillingness by actual or threatened violence or pressure. coerced into signing over the rights constrain suggests the effect of a force or circumstance that limits freedom of action or choice. constrained by conscience oblige implies the constraint of necessity, law, or duty. felt obliged to go

Examples of force in a Sentence


The front of the car took the full force of the collision. instruments used to measure the force of the wind The police were accused of using excessive force when they made the arrest. We discourage the use of force. He used brute force to open the door. I was impressed by the force of her personality.


They forced us to work long hours without pay. The flooding forced hundreds of residents to flee their homes. After seeing the evidence, I was forced to admit my error. I am forced to conclude that more funding will be necessary. The pilot was forced to land when one of the plane's engines caught fire. The scandal forced his resignation. Lack of time may eventually force a compromise. They are trying to force a vote on this issue. The runner was forced out of bounds. Their car was forced off the road.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Critics say many mom-and-pop stores have been forced to reduce employment or opening hours to counter rising labor costs. Kwanwoo Jun, WSJ, "South Korean Leader Shakes Up Finance Team," 9 Nov. 2018 Some airports with particularly stubborn birds are forced to get creative: Salt Lake City’s airport deploys pigs to eat up gull eggs, and border collies chase away herons and egrets at Southwest Florida International in Fort Myers. Cynthia Drescher, Condé Nast Traveler, "How Airports Keep Birds Away," 5 Nov. 2018 Without forcing you to get on your hands and knees and dig for whatever's trapped in the back of the cabinet. Taylor Mead, House Beautiful, "Your Kitchen Will Feel So Much Bigger With A Revolving Pantry Shelf System," 25 Oct. 2018 There's not really any Telltale news this week, forcing me to end our month-long tradition. Hayden Dingman, PCWorld, "This week in games: Blizzard dispels Diablo 4 rumors, and Hitman 2 adds Sean Bean to the cast," 19 Oct. 2018 Could the Air Force not foresee the possibility of having to evacuate the base and being forced to protect grounded jets from a hurricane? Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "More Than a Dozen F-22s May Have Been Damaged or Destroyed by Hurricane Michael," 15 Oct. 2018 The Black Hood has some weird vendetta against her, forcing her to relinquish her starring role of Carrie in the school musical. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Everything That Happened On "Riverdale" Season 2," 8 Oct. 2018 Indicative of another industry trend, the Huracán is one of just four cars here without forced induction. Car and Driver, "Lightning Lap 2018: Where the Track Tells the Truth," 26 Sep. 2018 Parents and children should be reunited.’’ The judge directed the U.S. to cover the cost of all reunifications after the ACLU asserted that families were being forced to pay for travel expenses and DNA tests to prove parentage. Kartikay Mehrotra,, "Reunited immigrant families face difficult choice: try to stay legally or leave children in the US," 14 July 2018

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for force


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Vulgar Latin *fortia, from Latin fortis strong


see force entry 1

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Statistics for force

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Time Traveler for force

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

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More Definitions for force



English Language Learners Definition of force

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: physical strength, power, or effect

: power or violence used on a person or thing

: strength or power that is not physical



English Language Learners Definition of force (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make (someone) do something that he or she does not want to do

: to make it necessary for (someone) to do something

: to make (something) necessary


\ˈfȯrs \

Kids Definition of force

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : power that has an effect on something the force of the wind the force of her personality

2 : the state of existing and being enforced That law is still in force.

3 : a group of people available for a particular purpose a police force the work force

4 : power or violence used on a person or thing He opened the door by force.

5 : an influence (as a push or pull) that tends to produce a change in the speed or direction of motion of something the force of gravity


forced; forcing

Kids Definition of force (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to make someone or something do something His tribe … had been forced to leave Utah …— John Reynolds Gardiner, Stone Fox

2 : to get, make, or move by using physical power Police forced their way into the room.

3 : to break open using physical power We forced the door.

4 : to speed up the development of I'm forcing flower bulbs.


\ˈfō(ə)rs, ˈfȯ(ə)rs \

Medical Definition of force 

(Entry 1 of 2)

: an agency or influence that if applied to a free body results chiefly in an acceleration of the body and sometimes in elastic deformation and other effects


Medical Definition of forcé (Entry 2 of 2)

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Legal Definition of force 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a cause of motion, activity, or change

intervening force

: a force that acts after another's negligent act or omission has occurred and that causes injury to another : intervening cause at cause

irresistible force

: an unforeseeable event especially that prevents performance of an obligation under a contract : force majeure

2 : a body of persons available for a particular end the labor force specifically : police force usually used with the

3 : violence, compulsion, or constraint exerted upon or against a person or thing

constructive force

: the use of threats or intimidation for the purpose of gaining control over or preventing resistance from another

deadly force

: force that is intended to cause or that carries a substantial risk of causing death or serious bodily injury — compare nondeadly force in this entry

Note: As a general rule, deadly force may be used without incurring criminal or tort liability when one reasonably believes that one's life or safety is in danger. In some cases, a person's unreasonable belief in the need for deadly force has been used to justify reducing a charge of murder to voluntary manslaughter. Additionally, a police officer is generally justified in using deadly force to prevent the escape of a suspect who threatens the officer or who the officer has probable cause to believe has committed a violent crime.

lawful force

: force that is considered justified under the law and does not create criminal or tort liability — compare unlawful force in this entry

moderate force \ˈmä-​də-​rət-​ \

: nondeadly force in this entry

nondeadly force

: force that is intended to cause minor bodily injury also : a threat (as by the brandishing of a gun) to use deadly force

called also moderate force

— compare deadly force in this entry

reasonable force

: Lawful force that is reasonably necessary to accomplish a particular end (as preventing theft of one's property)

unlawful force

: force that is not justified under the law and therefore is considered a tort or crime or both — compare lawful force in this entry

in force

: valid and operative a life insurance policy in force

forced; forcing

Legal Definition of force (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : to compel by physical means often against resistance forced him into the car

b : to break open or through forced the door — see also forcible entry

2 : to impose or require by law — see also elective share, forced heir at heir, forced sale at sale

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More from Merriam-Webster on force

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with force

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for force

Spanish Central: Translation of force

Nglish: Translation of force for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of force for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about force

Comments on force

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to enclose within walls

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