verb im·pel \ im-ˈpel \
|Updated on: 21 Jul 2018

Definition of impel

impelled; impelling
1 : to urge or drive forward or on by or as if by the exertion of strong moral pressure : force
  • felt impelled to correct the misconception
2 : to impart motion to : propel

Examples of impel in a Sentence

  1. His interest in the American Civil War impelled him to make repeated visits to Gettysburg.

  2. She felt impelled to give a speech after the performance.

Recent Examples of impel from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'impel.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

impel vs Compel

Impel is very similar in meaning to compel, and often a perfect synonym, though it tends to suggest even more strongly an inner drive to do something and a greater urgency to act, especially for moral reasons. But when impel takes its noun and adjective forms, it changes slightly. So an impulse—such as "impulse buying", when you suddenly see something cool and know you've got to have it—often isn't based on anything very serious. And impulsive behavior in general, such as blurting out something stupid on the spur of the moment, is the kind of thing you're supposed to get over when you grow up.

Origin and Etymology of impel

Middle English impellen, from Latin impellere, from in- + pellere to drive — more at felt

Synonym Discussion of impel

move, actuate, drive, impel mean to set or keep in motion. move is very general and implies no more than the fact of changing position.
    • moved the furniture
actuate stresses transmission of power so as to work or set in motion.
    • turbines actuated by waterpower
drive implies imparting forward and continuous motion and often stresses the effect rather than the impetus.
    • a ship driven aground by hurricane winds
impel is usually figurative and suggests a great motivating impetus.
    • a candidate impelled by ambition

IMPEL Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of impel for English Language Learners

  • : to cause (someone) to feel a strong need or desire to do something

IMPEL Defined for Kids


verb im·pel \ im-ˈpel \

Definition of impel for Students

impelled; impelling
: to urge or force into action
  • I felt impelled to speak up.

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one who attends or assists a leader

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