repel

verb
re·​pel | \ ri-ˈpel How to pronounce repel (audio) \
repelled; repelling

Definition of repel

transitive verb

1a : to drive back : repulse
b : to fight against : resist
2 : turn away, reject repelled the insinuation
3a : to drive away : discourage foul words and frowns must not repel a lover— William Shakespeare
b : to be incapable of adhering to, mixing with, taking up, or holding
c : to force away or apart or tend to do so by mutual action at a distance
4 : to cause aversion in : disgust

intransitive verb

: to cause aversion

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from repel

repeller noun

When to Use Repel

Since re- can mean not just "again" but also "back", repel means "drive back". Repel has two common adjective forms; thus, a repellent or repulsive odor may drive us into the other room. Its main noun form is repulsion. Magnets exhibit both attraction and repulsion, and the goal of an armed defense is the repulsion of an enemy; but we generally use repulsion to mean "strong dislike". In recent years, repulse has been increasingly used as a synonym for repel ("That guy repulses me").

Examples of repel in a Sentence

a fabric that repels water Their superior forces repelled the invasion. Two positive electrical charges repel each other. Magnets can both repel and attract one another.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

For the first, the gecko combines surface slapping and surface tension, aided by their unique hydrophobic skin that repels water, according to Nirody. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Geckos’ new superpower is running on water; now we know how they do it," 6 Dec. 2018 Such is the perfume that seems to trail after this writer and his books, a smell that repels yet holds an uneasy and undeniable attraction. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction: The Union of Death and Desire," 22 Nov. 2018 Manufacturers such as Sunbrella or Crypton Fabrics supply upholstery fabrics that repel water and offer the ultimate cleaning capability — perfect for dining chairs that are prone to spills or stains. Detroit Free Press, "6 ways to make the most of your dining room space," 21 June 2018 One simple way to ward dirt off: rub the antenna with wax paper to give it a protective coat that will repel gunk. 7. Lauren Smith, Good Housekeeping, "The Best Car Cleaning Advice — Plus, 11 Mistakes You Might Be Making," 3 Nov. 2017 According to The Spruce, the most pet-friendly fabrics are real and faux leather, microfiber, canvas, denim, and outdoor fabrics which are treated to repel odors and moisture. Brittney Morgan, House Beautiful, "Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your White Sofa White," 30 Jan. 2019 Nets in place over the deck, meant to repel enemy boarders, ended up trapping more than 500 sailors aboard as the ship went down. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Tiny magnets will escort ions out of rare material from a shipwreck," 24 Aug. 2018 Age limits are understandable if the purpose of conscription is to repel marauding Russians. The Economist, "If national service is so good, everyone should do it," 5 July 2018 Those who favor independence, self-reliance, and curiosity are repelled by them. Marc J. Hetherington, Vox, "How you think about raising children says a lot about your political views," 29 Nov. 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for repel

Middle English repellen, from Middle French repeller, from Latin repellere, from re- + pellere to drive — more at felt

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about repel

Statistics for repel

Last Updated

17 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for repel

The first known use of repel was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for repel

repel

verb

English Language Learners Definition of repel

: to keep (something) out or away
: to force (an enemy, attacker, etc.) to stop an attack and turn away
physics : to force (something) to move away or apart

repel

verb
re·​pel | \ ri-ˈpel How to pronounce repel (audio) \
repelled; repelling

Kids Definition of repel

1 : to drive back We tried to repel the enemy.
2 : to push away Two magnets can repel each other.
3 : to keep out : resist The cloth is treated to repel water.
4 : disgust entry 2 The sight repelled everyone.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on repel

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with repel

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for repel

Spanish Central: Translation of repel

Nglish: Translation of repel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of repel for Arabic Speakers

Comments on repel

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

WORD OF THE DAY

a secret plot to overthrow a government

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

April 2019 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a bird amidst buds
  • Which is a synonym of propitious?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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