per·​force | \pər-ˈfȯrs \

Definition of perforce 

1 : by force of circumstances or of necessity These images are perforce in black and white because there is no color at x-ray wavelengths.Smithsonian All our perceptions of China are perforce limited, partial, biased by our cultural and political perspectives.— Marilyn B. Young With no new novel in the offing, Harry addicts will perforce focus their anticipation during the coming year on the film version of the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone— Paul Gray

2 obsolete : by physical coercion … he rushed into my house and took perforce my ring away.— William Shakespeare

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Did You Know?

English speakers borrowed "par force" from Anglo-French in the 14th century. Par meant "by" (from Latin per) and the Anglo-French word force had the same meaning as its English equivalent, which was already in use by then. At first, "perforce" meant quite literally "by physical coercion." That meaning is no longer used today, but it was still prevalent in William Shakespeare's lifetime (1564-1616). "He rush'd into my house and took perforce my ring away," wrote the Bard in The Comedy of Errors. The "force of circumstances" sense of "perforce" had also come into use by Shakespeare's day. In Henry IV, Part 2, we find ". . . your health; the which, if you give o'er to stormy passion, must perforce decay."

Examples of perforce in a Sentence

we must, perforce, deal with this issue immediately, as procrastination is not an option

Recent Examples on the Web

The search zone is the creation of the ATSB, and is perforce somewhat arbitrary. Bucky Mcmahon, Esquire, "If Anyone Finds MH370, It Will Be the Men on This Ship," 14 Sep. 2015 What might be called the Falstaff question—is this man a harmless buffoon, or a dangerous threat to the world order?—has, perforce, become a national preoccupation. Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker, "Gregory Doran and Antony Sher discuss the political resonance of Shakespeare’s plays.," 2 May 2016 This man is perforce a tyrant, and the people cease to owe him allegiance. Charles P. Pierce, Esquire, "Words Matter," 31 July 2014

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for perforce

Middle English par force, from Anglo-French, by force

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

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English Language Learners Definition of perforce

—used to say that something is necessary or must be done

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


noxious or harmful

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